In 2021, Colorado Passed the Most Comprehensive Birth Equity Laws in the Country

Groundswell Fund grantee partners Elephant Circle and COLOR, alongside their partner Soul to Soul Sisters, supported three Black state legislators to advance three RJ-related bills through the state legislature.

The campaign built momentum, and the coalition grew to include bigger advocacy organizations like the Children’s Campaign, the Colorado Center for Law and Policy, and the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative.

Stakeholders like the Colorado Hospital Association, lobbyists for the health insurance plans, Denver Health, and the Department of Corrections all had conversations about policy issues with directly impacted people, were lifted as experts, and were in the room to share their stories.

This was possible due to deep and long investment in a range of relationships. The fact that the bill’s sponsors had worked with the RJ organizations before and trusted us was critical. The fact that white women in key positions advocated for their organizations to stand back and follow was key – as well as the fact that women of color, including those in white-led organizations, advocated for those organizations to follow was also key. And all of this was rooted in multi-year relationships.

“We already had relationships with people directly impacted and had been working with them and for them, doing policy work in less glamorous ways and places. We had already been listening. We also benefited from the fact that when the bill sponsors asked us, “what should we do to address maternal health inequities?” we had well-developed and comprehensive ideas.”

The experience was transformational. Many people participated by ghostwriting, testifying, attending stakeholder meetings, and attending implementation meetings – often for the first time. People who had experienced harm got to tell their stories and see those stories lead to real policy change. It was healing. People felt heard. This success was so multi-layered that the ripples are still emanating and will for a long time.