2-1-1 Colorado History

Discussions in Colorado regarding the implementation of 2-1-1 began in 1999. Mile High United Way, along with other United Ways and Information and Referral (I&R) agencies expressed interest in utilizing 2-1-1 to connect communities with health and human services.


Preliminary plans were discussed pending the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) reservation of the 2-1-1 dialing code. Once the FCC decision was in place, interested parties in Colorado came together to begin the process of developing a 2-1-1 system. On February 9th, 2001, an inaugural meeting was held to begin this statewide effort.


Meeting attendees included representatives from organizations across the state with experience or interest in the provisioning of quality information and referral (I&R) services.  A steering committee was formed to develop a plan for a 2-1-1 system to ensure all Coloradoans would have easy access to important health and human service information, 24-hours a day, 365 days a year in both English and Spanish. 

Over the course of 18 months, the 2-1-1 Colorado Steering Committee (later becoming the 2-1-1 Colorado Collaborative) developed a plan to meet this charge.  This plan was finalized and submitted to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for approval in September, 2002.  The PUC approved the plan and assigned “2-1-1” to the collaborative in October, 2002, who took the lead in identifying sites to host 2-1-1 and implementation.


With 2003 marking the pilot year, only eighteen counties had access to 2-1-1. 

  • United Way of Weld County’s 2-1-1 launched and served Weld County.

  • Mile High United Way’s 2-1-1 launched and served Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Clear Creek, Denver, Douglas, Elbert, Gilpin & Jefferson counties.

  • United Way of Larimer County launched and served Grand, Jackson, Larimer, Moffat, Rio Blanco and Routt counties.

  • The Mesa County Dept. of Human Services 2-1-1 launched and served Mesa county.


In 2004, Pikes Peak United Way, launched and served Chaffee, Cheyenne, El Paso, Lincoln, Park & Teller counties.


In 2006, the Senior Resource Development Agency (SRDA) launched their 2-1-1 and served Pueblo County.


Today the 2-1-1 Colorado system includes six 2-1-1 Call Centers serving all 64 of the state’s counties. 


Collectively, the Colorado 2-1-1 Collaborative participants currently contribute more than $2.5 million annually in-kind to implement the statewide 2-1-1 system.  With the exception of some fee for service contracts, 2-1-1 does not receive any funding from the State of Colorado, nor have Federal dollars supporting the program.


In 2012, the Colorado 2-1-1 Collaborative received over 230,000 calls for assistance.