Colorado has a new Belonging Barometer

By Renata Hill, Moodfuel

A new effort to bring Coloradans together aims to catalyze a sense of belonging and inclusion across our state

According to the Colorado Health Institute (CHI), a strong sense of belonging can tighten the fabric of society by increasing community trust, but not many people can quantify "belonging." Today, CHI and Over Zero, a national non-violence dialoguing organization, presented a new project that measures and evaluates the multifaceted nature of this attachment.

The Colorado Belonging Barometer, a 10-question survey in English and Spanish, taken by 1,102 residents attempted to gauge their feelings of connection, inclusion and acceptance to determine their sense of belonging. The survey also reviewed activities which foster belonging within Colorado communities, workplaces and schools.

Report cover photo with 5 diverse people standing together holding the Colorado state flag in front of a red rock formation
Image from Colorado Health Institute.

What does belonging look like in Colorado?

A majority of respondents felt like they belonged in Colorado and their workplaces. However, this sense of attachment lessened at the community and school levels because more people felt ambivalent.

In a video presentation, Kimberly Phu, CHI's research and analysis manager on the project, encouraged a more thorough understanding of this ambivalence and the factors contributing to it as a way to create environments of acceptance and inclusion.

The Belonging Barometer web page indicated that factors related to people's perceptions, such as a sense of isolation or political ideology, influenced their answers more frequently than demographics like age, ethnicity or location. It also restated points about complexity and nuance in understanding the data presented.

What else did the barometer reveal? 

Coloradans connect organically in their neighborhoods, workplaces and childrenโ€™s schools, important geographies for bonding. More specifically, parks, libraries and places of worship evoke the greatest sense of belonging, according to Coloradans who took the survey.

At the other end of the connection spectrum, far fewer respondents reported a sense of belonging when visiting online forums, using public transit or attending classes for a degree or certification. Phu said, "There are opportunities here to cultivate a sense of belonging."

Belonging Barometer list of 10 questions to be answered on a scale of strongly disagree to strongly agree
Infographic from Colorado Health Institute.

What does this mean for Colorado?

The Colorado Belonging Barometer is an innovative report, applied at the state level for the first time. Over Zero published a national guide in 2023 and revised it in 2024.

CHI's data and analysis manager, Lindsey Whittington, and communications director, Joe Hanel, agreed during the presentation that the survey was a starting point for additional research and work on advancing Coloradans' sense of belonging in many spaces, noting that everyone has a role to play.

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Supporting people in recovery from trauma and suicidal intensity is my Why. I live differently abled & am proudly part-Indigenous (Mvskoke).
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