Introducing the Colorado Belonging Barometer: A Landmark Effort to Measure Belonging Across Colorado

July 3, 2024

Photo by Daniel Norris on Unsplash.

This story was originally published on Colorado Health Institute.

Belonging Colorado, a special fund at The Denver Foundation, announces the launch of the Colorado Belonging Barometer, a pioneering initiative to measure the sense of belonging among Coloradans. This effort, in collaboration with the Colorado Health Institute (CHI) and Over Zero, marks the first time belonging has been assessed at the state level, providing crucial insights into the social fabric of Colorado communities.

CHI worked with Over Zero to create a state version of the national Belonging Barometer, which Over Zero and the American Immigration Council created in 2023. Colorado is the first state to have a state-level Belonging Barometer.


Why Belonging Matters

Research shows that a strong sense of belonging is linked to better physical and mental health, higher workforce retention, increased trust in neighbors and local government, greater openness to diversity, and overall satisfaction with democracy. Understanding belonging is essential for fostering individual and community resilience in Colorado.


Findings from the Colorado Belonging Barometer

The Barometer reveals several key trends:

  • Higher Overall Belonging. Coloradans report higher levels of belonging than the national average, though there is significant room for improvement.
  • Uncertainty. A substantial portion of respondents felt uncertain about their belonging in various settings, indicating potential areas for intervention.
  • Socioeconomic Influences. Factors such as education level, income, feelings of loneliness, and political ideology play a significant role in a person’s sense of belonging.
  • High-Belonging Spaces. Libraries, parks, and places of worship were identified as spaces where people felt the most belonging.
  • Low-Belonging Spaces. Schools, public transit, and online forums were areas where belonging was less frequently reported, highlighting opportunities for improvement.

“A sense of belonging is important to people and our communities, but it’s a hard topic to measure,” said Kimberly Phu, Research and Analysis Manager at the Colorado Health Institute and lead author of the report. “That’s why we’re excited to bring this new data source to Colorado.” 


Policy and Community Action

The 2024 Colorado Belonging Barometer serves as a baseline for measuring belonging and provides a starting point for fostering greater inclusion. It includes suggested actions for:

  • Individuals. Reflect on personal actions to enhance belonging in various spaces.
  • Employers. Evaluate workplace culture and support mechanisms for employees.
  • Community Leaders and Policymakers. Develop strategies and policies to promote inclusivity and connection, especially in public spaces.
  • Researchers. Investigate the nuanced factors affecting belonging and engage communities in the process.
  • Funders. Align funding opportunities to support social connectedness and inclusive strategies.

“Each of us holds a piece of the puzzle and our intent is for Belonging Colorado to work across sectors to build a larger coalition for this important effort. This is one reason we’re excited to host this special fund at The Denver Foundation,” said Dr. Janet Lopez, Senior Director of Policy, Partnerships and Learning at The Denver Foundation.


Join the Conversation

Belonging Colorado invites all Coloradans to review the data, engage in conversations about the implications for their work, and explore ways to build bridges across differences. By working together, we can create a more inclusive and cohesive society where every Coloradan can thrive.

“Belonging is crucial, both to us as individuals, and to healthy and vibrant communities,” said Dr. Satia Marrota, Director of Knowledge and Learning at Over Zero. “It’s more important than ever for us to build communities where everyone feels welcome, included, and safe.”


About the Colorado Belonging Barometer

The Colorado Belonging Barometer adapts survey questions from the national report and adds new questions to explore how Coloradans experience belonging in various life settings such as schools, workplaces, communities, and the state as a whole.

NORC at the University of Chicago used a panel survey to collect 1,102 responses, mostly through a web form, to administer the Colorado Belonging Barometer survey. 


About Belonging Colorado

Belonging Colorado is a special fund of The Denver Foundation that provides training and technical assistance through the Greater Good Science Center to those who want to build their skills and learn more about how to incorporate bridge building into their communities and professional lives. The fund is investing in community efforts to advance innovative local programs and approaches to building connections across lines of difference.


About the Colorado Health Institute

The Colorado Health Institute is a nonprofit, mission-driven research and consulting group advancing equity and well-being in our communities through deep expertise and implementational know-how. We simplify the complex, provide context, and advance policies that make a difference.


About Over Zero

Over Zero works to prevent identity-based violence and strengthen societal resilience through communication-based strategies and tools.