News (Noticias)

Continuing the Work- RMHS Announces 2021 continued Mill Levy-Funded Initiatives

RMHS announces the 2021 community initiatives.

Guided by Humanity staff
Guided by Humanity staff in the GBH studio.

Rocky Mountain Human Services (RMHS) is pleased to announce it will continue supporting community initiatives in 2021 with 26 partners who provide unique services and activities for Denver residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).


The partners are funded through the RMHS Mill Levy program, which is devoting more than $3 million to those initiatives. RMHS announced a one- year extension to 25 of last year’s providers that were able to adapt their scopes of work within the COVID-19 environment. One additional project was awarded this month. RMHS celebrates new community partners through the program, which is funded by the generous support of Denver taxpayers who in 2003 overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure levying a property supporting Denver residents with I/DD.


“The Mill Levy program funds community initiatives that provide tons of unique and creative services and support for the I/DD community in Denver,” said Amy Becerra, Mill Levy Director at RMHS.


Initiatives funded by the Mill Levy program meet the needs of Denver residents with an I/DD in a variety of service areas. The RMHS Mill Levy department staff work closely with the RMHS Community Advisory Council to set priorities for funding initiatives and the selection process. These funding priorities are used to categorize and describe mill levy funding. Priority areas include:

  • Basic Needs/ Environmental Supports

  • Behavioral and Mental Health Services

  • Education and Increasing Independence

  • Social and Recreational services

  • Training and Support

  • I/DD System Gaps and Assistance across other systems

Many of the initiatives adapted services to meet the needs of Denver residents during the global coronavirus pandemic. As the events of 2020 unfolded, the CAC recommended and RMHS adopted an additional priority area to include an emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion. The CAC helped create DEI standards so services are more accessible to all members of the community. The CAC is an invaluable source of community input to the RMHS Mill Levy program.

“The CAC has an opportunity to recommend priorities that are important and impact the I/DD community, as well as review and recommend Mill Levy initiatives,” said Pamela Bisceglia, Executive Director at AdvocacyDenver and member of the CAC.

The adaptations created more resilient and relevant ways for each of the initiatives to meet the needs of the people served.


The initiatives receiving continued funding in 2021 are:

  • The Autism Community Center – All Ages. The Autism Community Store is a safe, friendly and inclusive space and an incredible resource for the autism community in Denver. It offers a place for support groups, social events, resource fairs, trainings and so much more. The center is designed to be an accepting, sensory-inclusive hub that builds bridges to the broader community. Contact Stephanie Webb at 303-309-3647 for more information.


  • Guided by Humanity – All Ages. Inclusive yoga opportunities offered by Guided By Humanity. The overall goal of this project is to support people to gain the tools necessary to guide their personal wellbeing. Contact Mary Sims at 303-437-9466 for more information.


  • Parent to Parent: Mile High Connections Matter – All Ages. Mile High Connections Matter, offered by Parent to Parent of Colorado, provides training for parents who want to learn the skills necessary to support other parents. Once trained, parents are matched with new parents looking for information and emotional support. Positive behavior support training designed for the parents of younger children is also available. Contact Lisa Franklin at 877-472-7201 for more information.


  • Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition: Probate Power – All Ages. Resources and support with special needs planning from Probate Power, a program conducted by the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition. Legal experts guide clients and families through all aspects of this often difficult and hard-to-navigate topic. Contact Chris Brock at 720-279-8233 for more information.


  • Tennyson Center: ASPEN and BRANCH programs – Ages birth to 18. The ASPEN and BRANCH programs offered by Tennyson Center, are designed for children with I/DD who are survivors of trauma, abuse or neglect. The goal of these important services is to empower children and support them to safely change their life stories. Contact the Tennyson Admissions Department at 303-731-4845 for more information.


  • Thrive Autism Collaborative – Ages 6 months to 2 1/2 years. Thrive Autism Collaborative has been piloting a new model of parent coaching in Parent-Mediated Early Start Denver Model (P-ESDM) designed for those unable to access P-ESDM through publicly funded early intervention programs. This year's pilot is bringing that training to therapists and providers working with families. This will allow broader access and enable providers to reach more families than previous workshops allowed. Contact Laurie Vismara at 404-290-6694 for more information.


  • Laradon Family, Infant and Toddler Program – Ages 1 to 5. Experts from the Family, Infant and Toddler (FIT) Program at Laradon can connect families to resources in their community with the overall goal of reducing family stress. This project focuses on the basic needs of children so parents are better able to support overall needs. Contact Perla Manquero at 303-901-7292 for more information.


  • Rise School of Denver – Ages 1 to 5. The LEAP Preschool Framework reflects a behavioral and developmentally appropriate approach to teaching children with and without disabilities in inclusive early childhood environments. This framework is being adopted to the Rise School of Denver to scale up and sustain program-wide inclusion. Contact Jackie Joseph at 303-756-7473 for more information.


  • THRIVE Center: 3 To 5 Program – Ages 3 to 5. THRIVE Center supports parents whose children are preparing to enter the school system. In order to facilitate ease of access, the trainings will occur at a preschool during the typical pickup times. Training topic examples include navigating special education, behavior is communication, how to advocate for your child, making friends, transitions from pre-k to kindergarten and components of an IEP, which is an individualized education program. Contact Yvette Burkhalter at 303-632-6840 ext. 101 for more information.


  • Connect Us – Ages 3 to 18. Through after-school groups, recess facilitation and camps, Connect Us fosters social inclusion, supports friendship building and teaches leadership skills for preschool and elementary-age youth. Contac Stephanie Schiff at 303-807-1836 for more information.


  • Ability Connections: Ready to Achieve Mentoring Program – Ages 13 to 25. The Ready to Achieve Mentoring Program (RAMP), offered by Ability Connection, provides a mentoring and life-skills program, which offers career-focused mentoring for transitional age youth with I/DD and foster care youth. RAMP serves youth in two ways; one with a series of 4-6 weeklong summer intensive program and two in a yearlong program for youth in targeted Denver Schools. Contact Kelsey Atkinson at 720-773-1622for more information.


  • THRIVE Center: Project Independence – Ages 14 to 21. Project Independence is a training program for parents and youth with I/DD offered by THRIVE Center. The project provides two strands of trainings: One strand for youth (14-21) and the other for the participating youths’ parents. Training topic examples include transition on the individualized education plan or IEP, person-centered planning, disability planning, employment, college and living independently. Parents are then able to better understand the nature of their child’s disability and the resources available to support a successful school experience and post-secondary life for their child. Likewise, youth can better understand their educational, developmental and transitional needs resulting in successful postsecondary outcomes. Contact Yvette Burkhalter at 303-632-6840 ext. 101 for more information.


  • ACEConnect: Passport to Independence – Ages 14 to 21. The Passport to Independence project uses community-based instruction to assist students in gaining self-determination and independent living skills. The goal of this program of Denver Public Schools is to help youth set and achieve their post-secondary and independent living goals as they transition out of high school to live an active life within their community. Contact Nicole Franchino or Courtney Kallas at 720-423-2077 for more information.


  • Teaching the Autism Community Trades (TACT) – Ages 14 to 30. The mission of TACT is to encourage and empower the full spectrum of individuals with autism through education and employment in skilled trades. TACT’s programs increase student’s proficiency and confidence in their marketable interests which lead to employable jobs and lasting careers. Career tracks programming and camps/individual lessons. Contact Becky Mershon at 303-295-0163 for more information.

  • REVEL: Lounge and Mentor Program – Ages 14 and up. The REVEL Lounge offers an environment where people with and without disabilities can connect, work, learn, build relationships and thrive together. There are also opportunities for individualized behavior therapy in a variety on non-traditional settings from the REVEL Supports program. Contact Gabby Lauder at 720-534-0601 for more information.

  • Financial Health Institute: Transitioning Young Adults Program – Ages 16 to 25. The Transitioning Young Adults (TYA) Program is designed to enhance awareness of the multiple domains of adult life, encourage practice of essential life skills and provide opportunities for the participants to make lasting improvements in their state of physical, mental and social well-being. The TYA program utilizes digital technology to build upon participant’s familiarity with technology to enhance personal economics Contact Michael Kilgore at 303-204-3144 for more information.


  • Jovial Concepts: Garden Program – Ages 16 and up. Garden-based programming through Jovial Concepts is designed to utilize garden classrooms for individuals with I/DD to learn and engage in job training and learn valuable life and workable skills in “seed to table” programming. Opportunities include growing produce, harvesting crops, nutritional planning and learning to make healthy meals all the while engaging socially for their overall well-being. Contact Kristina Welch at 303-578-2569 for more information.


  • Access Gallery – Ages 18 and up. Access Gallery engages the community by opening doors to creative, educational and economic opportunities for people with I/DD to access, experience and benefit from the arts. Access Gallery supports young adults and artists with I/DD in their efforts to integrate into the community and work force through the medium of visual arts. Contact Cris Ciani at 303-777-0797 for more information.


  • Financial Health Institute: ResourceAbility – Ages 18 and up. Financial Health Institute has defined “financial health” as the dynamic relationship of one’s financial and economic resources as they are applied to or impact the state of physical, mental and social well-being. ResourceAbility is designed to support adults with I/DD, case managers and caregivers. The “Financial Health” and “More Than A Job” classes offered are designed to provide opportunities to develop strategies to manage resources, reduce stress and improve overall health. Contact Michael Kilgore at 303-204-3144 for more information.


  • Easterseals: IPS Supported Employment – Ages 18 and up. The IPS Supported Employment project is a pilot program run by Easterseals, aimed at tackling the historically low employment rates for individuals with I/DD. It is designed to teach vital job skills, increase employment opportunities, and help those employed, stay employed. Contact Kim Berg at 303-886-7965 for more information.


  • Laradon: Enhanced Behavioral Services – Ages 18 and up. Behavioral services offered by Laradon provide support beyond Medicaid-defined services. The services are specifically designed for adults who are dually diagnosed and include crisis support, training and consultation. This project is aimed at identifying and bridging the gaps in funding support for addressing these needs, to ensure individuals get the highest level of support. Contact Ted Hubbard at 720-974-6883 for more information. ​


  • Laradon and Mental Health Center of Denver: Mental Health Collaborative - Ages 18 and up. Laradon and the Mental Health Center of Denver are working together on a pilot program designed to improve communication between mental health and I/DD service providers and offer cross-system services. With mental health services for adults with I/DD being a long-standing area of need, this partnership sets out to increase cross-cultural competency and increase the availability of providers able to work within this population. Contact Lynette Johnson or Ted Hubbard at 720-974-6883 for more information.

  • Colorado Fund for People with Disabilities: Mission Supports Program – Ages 18 and up. Support and assistance in achieving stability for people with I/DD who are at risk of, or currently experiencing homelessness. Through collaboration with the Colorado Fund for People with Disabilities, Mission Supports provides intensive case management and support in navigating the eligibility process for I/DD services. Contact Arnie Swenson at 720-772-5724 for more information.


  • Activity Options – Ages 18 and up. Project World provides opportunities to explore Colorado and beyond with Project World, a program of Activity Options. This project offers a variety of small group weekend, evening and community experiences and travel opportunities that are inclusive and safe. Contact Peggy Berry at 303-358-2592 for more information.


  • The Wayfaring Band – All ages. The group provides support, builds awareness and fosters genuine connection among diverse communities through education, socialization and transformative travel. The all-inclusive travel experiences offer real world opportunities to practice independent living skills, build relationships, develop capacity to make choices and self-advocate. Contact Andrea Moore at 720-515-1596 for more information.

The community initiative receiving initial funding in 2021:

Projected Start Date: 04/01/2021


  • Evoke Behavioral Health – Ages 7-18. Evoke Behavioral Health provides a severe behavior treatment program for youth with I/DD, ASD, and co-occurring diagnoses at risk of out of home residential placement due to severe problem behavior and those requiring a step-down program as they return home from residential placement. More information will be available on our website upon execution of the contract.


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