At the close of the 1990s, the Denver metro region had 60,000 union members striving for fair wages and working conditions. At the same time a wide variety of non-profits were working to eliminate poverty. In spite of the natural connections between these goals, there was no institutionalized movement to join efforts and maximize the power of these two progressive movements. In addition, most organizations were focused on state-wide issues, but few were focused on the important decisions being made at the local or regional levels.
FRESC was founded in the spring of 2002 to forge a lasting connection and grow the capacity of both movements. FRESC also filled a critical gap by including a strong focus on local government spending and policy. FRESC was founded by the Denver Area Labor Federation (DALF) but quickly incorporated as an independent 501(c)(3) organization with a strong base of foundation funding.
“FRESC is a strong and consistent voice on issues affecting low wage workers and their families.”
-Patrick Horvath, The Denver Foundation
Linking Community Benefits to Publicly Funded Redevelopment
Government-supported redevelopment and economic development policy is a place where the interests of the union and community movements come together, and this is where FRESC’s work began. FRESC provided a bridge for the union and community movements to join together on large-scale projects and policies with significant potential impact on creation of affordable housing, expansion of good jobs, and the protection of the environment. Over the past eleven years, FRESC has transformed the approach to redevelopment in Denver. We have transformed the discourse from during the Gates redevelopment process when initially public officials questioned the need for community benefits is questioned to one when city councils across the metro region expect community benefits to be achieved on the projects that come before them.
FRESC is affiliated with the Partnership for Working Families, a national network of leading regional advocacy organizations who support innovative solutions to our nation’s economic and environmental problems.
2006 –Gates community benefits agreement secures high-quality jobs, affordable housing, and environmental cleanup. Colorado voters pass minimum wage
2008 – Colorado is the first state in decades to defeat a right-to-work initiative
2009 – Union Station community benefits agreement advances construction and service sector careers, small business development and sustainability
2010 – Mariposa public housing redevelopment breaks ground with resident oversight. RTD gains joint redevelopment authority and adopts affordable housing policy. Colorado enacts a nation-leading renewable energy standard along with job standards for green jobs
2011 – Denver region awarded federal grant to engage low income communities and communities of color in planning
2012 – RTD sets targeted hire goals for construction jobs on 225 light rail line