Montrose County has a shortage of childcare options, which impacts everything from education and public safety to healthcare and economic development. But what if we could solve it together as Montrose neighbors?
That’s the driving question behind the Unify Montrose project, which was created with Montrose residents, business leaders, experts, and officials starting in February 2023.
Thanks to collaboration with the City of Montrose, Montrose County, Montrose Recreation District, and dozens of organizations and businesses this summer, 222 Montrose County residents raised their hands to help solve the childcare shortage and help shape potential actions.
Last month, the Assembly of community members was chosen by random lottery during a live, public event on August 2, 2023, using a system called Panelot designed to select a random and representative sample. A total of 64 people were chosen as official “Delegates” with demographics that broadly represent the population of Montrose County from the 2020 Census.
To ensure that each Delegate can be as private or public as they each choose, Unify Montrose isn’t releasing the names of all Delegates publicly but is sharing the demographic makeup of the initial randomly selected Assembly.
Who was chosen for the Assembly?
• 18-24 years old: 5%
• 25-34 years old: 19%
• 5-44 years old: 19%
• 45-54 years old: 13%
• 55-64 years old: 17%
• 65 and above: 28%
• Under $25k: 22%
• $25k-50k: 22%
• $50k-$75k: 19%
• $75-$100k: 13%
• Over $100k: 17%
• Rather not say: 8%
• Female: 61%
• Male: 39%
Race and Ethnicity
• White: 69%
• Hispanic: 23%
• Black: 6%
• Native American: 2%
• Unaffiliated: 41%
• Republican: 39%
• Democrat: 11%
• Third-Party: 2%
• Not registered to vote or unsure of registration: 8%
• Lives within the City of Montrose: 56%
• Lives within the County of Montrose, but not in the City boundaries: 44%
Unify Montrose anticipated a certain amount of attrition, given the commitment of time required of Delegates. So the demographic mix of the Assembly will also change somewhat, but the above was the starting point. A public report will be shared for the final demographic numbers, as well.
The Assembly has officially started its weekly meetings. The Delegates are meeting as a large Assembly, and in small facilitated groups, and they will continue to meet weekly through Thanksgiving 2023.
In the first three weeks, the Delegates met each other and their small group facilitators, who are professional facilitators and not from Montrose, to ensure impartiality. The Delegates also created and voted on ground rules for the Assembly to follow as they continue to meet.
The Delegates also dove into the current state of childcare in Montrose and are learning more about both the resources available today and the facts of the problem, relying on insights and data from local childcare experts, business leaders, nonprofit leaders, and the Montrose County Needs Assessment, which was completed in October 2021 thanks to the Uncompahgre Valley Alliance, Bright Futures for Early Childhood and Families, Montrose County, and the City of Montrose.
The Delegates will deliberate, weighing the pros and cons of a variety of actions, and their costs, that could help achieve the goal. For the Assembly to succeed, later this year, the Delegates must converge on an overall strategy that they collectively believe will best achieve the shared goal. This final plan of action will require the support of two-thirds of the representative Delegates.
If at least two-thirds of the Delegates do support the plan, it will be presented by Delegates to elected officials, local leaders, and the public. If all goes as planned, that presentation will take place this January.
Delegates are compensated for their time over the 12-week deliberation period with a stipend of $15 per hour, and support with internet, computer equipment, childcare, or other caregiving if needed.
This compensation, the Unify Montrose project, and its staff from Unify America, a nonprofit nonpartisan that helps communities solve problems through collaboration, are funded by Colorado-based foundations like the El Pomar Foundation and the Boettcher Foundation, and through pilot funding from Unify’s founder Harry Nathan Gottlieb.
For more information about Unify Montrose, please visit UnifyMontrose.org.
Tonya Maddox is the Publisher of the Montrose Business Times and Founder & CEO of Our Town Matters, a local marketing, public relations, and events firm.