Impact of Poverty in Colorado
ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY POVERTY REDUCTION TASK FORCE
03:03 PM -- Impact of Poverty in Colorado
Dr. Lance Bolton, President of Northeastern Junior College, Mr. Joe Barela, President of the Rocky Mountain Workforce Development Association, Ms. Nan Sundeen, Director of the Pitkin County Department of Social Services, and Mr. Lance Benninghoff, Management Intern for Otero County, conducted a panel on the impact of poverty across Colorado. Mr. Benninghoff discussed the rate of poverty on the eastern plains, and the difficulties facing the region in spurring economic development and reducing poverty. Mr. Benninghoff also provided examples of how residents of the plains are coping with diminished economic opportunities, and the differences between the economy in this area and other regions in the state.
Mr. Lance Benninghoff continued to brief the task force on the status of the economy on the eastern plains, the circumstances that force people in the region into poverty, and potential solutions for spurring economic growth in the east.
Ms. Sundeen provided a perspective on issues facing the working poor, using Pitkin County as an example. Ms. Sundeen provided an overview of the effect of the county's recent economic downturn, and discussed the rate of poverty in the county. Ms. Sundeen also discussed the services provided to the working poor in Pitkin County, and explained how the services are funded.
Ms. Sundeen continued to brief the task force on issues facing the working poor in Pitkin County, and the resources available to the county to support this population. Mr. Barela provided a perspective on the issue of workforce development and its impact on poverty, relying on a briefing handout from the Arapahoe/Douglas Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce (Attachment C). Mr. Barela also addressed the plight of the working poor.
Dr. Bolton discussed the importance of education in lifting people out of poverty, and provided background on the students and curriculum of Northeastern Junior College. Dr. Bolton also discussed the poverty level and economic outlook of the northeastern part of the state. Dr. Bolton returned to discussing the students at Northeastern Junior College, and the challenges facing the students based on their economic backgrounds. Dr. Bolton then presented some solutions for ensuring that economically disadvantaged students benefit from higher education.
Dr. Bolton reiterated his plan for ensuring that students are prepared for college coursework when coming out of high school. Ms. Sundeen responded to questions regarding the lack of communication between agencies that provide services to the poor, and the inability of small counties to access federal stimulus dollars for poverty reduction programs. Mr. Barela responded to questions regarding the benefits of taking a regional approach to workforce development, and workforce development resources available at the state level. Discussion returned to the lack of preparedness on the part of high school graduates. Dr. Bolton responded to questions regarding the tuition costs at Northeastern Junior College, and the potential for instituting an entrance exam at the junior college level. Discussion ensued regarding recent legislation that seeks to ensure that high school graduates are prepared for further education.