COLOR's herstory begins with a grassroots group of Latinas searching for strategies to overcome high rates of unintended pregnancy, increasing rates of HIV/AIDS, and other issues impacting the Latino community in the areas of education, health care, civil rights, economic justice, and immigration. These women, our Founding Mothers, knew that the solution included increased sexuality education within our community, as well as policy change to address the root causes of these problems. With the help of a grant from the Latinas Unidas State Coalition Project of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health our Founding Mothers started working to create a voice and presence in the area of reproductive health and freedom in Colorado. In April 1998 they created Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR), the first Latina-led and Latina-serving reproductive justice organization in the state. In December 2000 COLOR became incorporated in the State of Colorado and received 501(c)(3) status for the Internal Revenue Service.
As a woman-of-color led organization, COLOR is suited to advance reproductive justice for Colorado Latinxs. Accordingly, COLOR’s approach includes intersectionality (i.e. our work challenges all barriers keeping communities from leading successful, self-determined lives and furthers environmental justice, economic justice, racial justice, immigrant rights, LGBTQ liberation), a youth-to-elder approach (i.e., our work embraces a multi-generational approach grounded in Latino values), and a cultura-centric way (i.e., our work evokes and lifts up the traditions, language, and cultural identities of our constituencies). Further, COLOR works to cultivate and develop our base of COLORistxs through a leadership ladder that reflects both participation and fundraising.
Today, COLOR represents and advocates for all Latinxs communities living in Colorado. Over 1,500 individuals, who engage with our work as participants and/or donors, are COLOR’s base members or COLORistxs, largely Spanish-speaking immigrants, LGBTQ folks, low-income folks, and people who identify as women and women of color, including youth and young activists (e.g., < 18 to 26 years of age) as well as families (35-55+). Our year-round base building efforts and programming are centered on reaching the Latinx community in metro Denver, with a focus on Denver and Adams Counties. We are undergoing a statewide expansion process where we reactivate and establish rural and urban connections with grassroots leaders and local organization in Latinx communities across the state of Colorado in order to grow our non-partisan civic involvement.