Application Overview

In partnership with local funders, the Colorado Innovation Community will enable health care safety net organizations to (1) build a more innovative culture and (2) more effectively identify, test, and evaluate innovations with the potential to improve care experiences for low-income Coloradans.


Table of Contents
Programmatic Structure
The “Gets:” Benefits for Participants
Informational Webinar Recording
Eligibility Criteria
The “Gives:” Expectations of Participants
Contact Us
Program Timeline
Apply Now!


What is the Colorado Innovation Community?

CCI, in partnership with the Colorado Health Foundation, The Colorado Health Access Fund of The Denver Foundation, the Rose Community Foundation, Colorado Access, and other partners will support strengthening an innovation community to better address the health of underserved Coloradans. This initiative will enable participating health care safety net organizations to build a more innovative culture and more effectively identify, test, and evaluate innovations with the potential to improve care experiences for low-income Coloradans. We will create opportunities for the broader safety net to learn about impactful, human-centered, sustainable solutions that can make the care experience better for patients and staff alike.

CCI is looking to support up to six to eight organizations to participate in the first phase of the Colorado Innovation Community. Selected organizations will receive access to funding, skill-building opportunities, an array of experts to support implementation, and a strong network of peers and leaders committed to improving the health and health care of underserved populations.


As safety net organizations continue to care for underserved populations within a changing health care environment, their ability to adapt and find creative solutions will be critical for strengthening health in our communities. Safety net organizations are fluent in addressing the barriers, needs, and opportunities unique to patients with complex physical, behavioral, and socioeconomic needs. However, these same organizations are currently ill-equipped to develop and scale innovative practices or effectively test and adopt successful technologies. A transformation is needed to move them toward an agile, creative, empowered system that prioritizes collaboration, effectively manages the development and implementation of innovation, and disseminates solutions that work to improve the health of underserved people.

At the same time, health care safety net systems are tight on time and resources; they have limited bandwidth to identify, create, test, and scale new solutions to meet the needs of their patients and communities. The Colorado Health Foundation, The Colorado Health Access Fund of The Denver Foundation, Rose Community Foundation, Colorado Access, and other partners are dedicated to addressing these challenges by developing a robust innovation network to address the needs of underserved populations.

The aforementioned philanthropies have asked the Center for Care Innovations (CCI) to launch and manage the newly-named “Colorado Innovation Community.” CCI is a technical assistance provider with 20 years of experience designing programs for the health care safety net and eight years cultivating innovation communities in California, Oregon, Maryland, and New Jersey. CCI offers an array of programs that teach health care systems how to integrate design thinking and patient-centered technology adoption practices into their operational practices. Already, a handful of safety net systems in Colorado — Clinical Family Health Services, Denver Health, and Every Child Pediatrics — have all had the opportunity to take part in CCI’s existing programming.

Based on CCI’s interviews with 26 Colorado safety net leaders over the past year, the initial priorities for this innovation community would likely focus on creating better care experiences for underserved Coloradans in the following opportunity areas: digital health, telehealth, business intelligence, workforce pipeline, population health, and team-based care. However, these priorities will evolve as the needs of the selected safety net partners are clarified.

The Colorado Innovation Community would create a supportive environment for health care safety net organizations to take advantage of existing technologies that improve health and health care for underserved people. The information gained from the innovation community is also uniquely positioned to inform Colorodo’s evolving policy landscape and create new opportunities to explore approaches that could strengthen care delivery to support new payment models.

The “Gets:” Benefits of Participation

If selected, CCI will provide your organization a suite of the technical assistance and support.

  1. Partner Funding: Each organization will receive a grant of up to $75,000 to participate in training, networking, and the testing of innovative solutions from June 2019 – March 2021.
  2. Seed Funding: Organizations will have further opportunities to apply for seed funding (up to an additional $75,000) to pilot vetted innovative solutions that address priority needs in the system. Funds can be used to offset staff time and other technology related costs. Each organization will be responsible for implementing the pilot, collecting data, engaging leadership, and broadly sharing learnings.
  3. Training in Design Thinking: Organizations will receive in-depth training, coaching, and mentoring on how to effectively define problems and design, test, evaluate, and implement innovative solutions. Design thinking (also known as human-centered design) skills are essential for organizations interested in creating a culture of innovation and developing leaders for change. These methodologies and ways of working have been proven to transform organizations’ abilities to engage their patients and staff in more meaningful ways, as well as hone critical skills of rapid testing and prototyping. CCI would leverage its award winning Catalyst program, which has already trained more than 250 safety net leaders across the country.
  4. Hands-on Support from Technical Experts: Organizations will receive access to a pool of advisors who will coach them in design thinking, technology research and vetting, technology integration, contracting and negotiation, and defining and measuring success of projects. CCI will leverage its own experience and experts from its long-running Technology Hub program.
  5. Networking with Colorado Innovators: Organizations will have access to both in-person and virtual networking opportunities with leaders from across the health care safety net ecosystem in Colorado. This includes other provider systems, health plans, state agencies, and entrepreneurs. This community of leaders will be essential for learning about the successes and failures associated with implementing innovative solutions.
Eligibility Criteria

CCI is looking to support up to six to eight organizations to participate as Phase 1 partners in the Colorado Innovation Community. The pool of applicants will include those who participated in interviews with the Colorado Health Foundation and CCI in 2018, as well as federally qualified health centers (FQHC), non-FQHC primary care clinics, public hospitals, critical access hospitals, and behavioral health organizations.

Applicants must demonstrate the following:

  • Executive leadership who are committed to building a culture of innovation and aligning the strategic mission to successfully implement and sustain innovations that improve health and health care of patients and communities.
  • A dedicated core team that can participate in key program activities such as the learning community, design thinking training, and piloting and evaluating solutions. The core team should include a clinical lead, project management support, information technology resources (as needed), and operational and executive leadership.
  • Infrastructure needed to successfully participate in the innovation communities required activities.
  • Experience implementing innovative solutions.
  • A strong interest and understanding in the value of piloting and learning about technology solutions that advance the goals and mission of the organization.
The “Gives:” Expectations of Participation

To receive the full benefits outlined above, participating organizations must meet the following milestones:

Improve Your Organization’s Capacity to Practice Human-Centered Innovation and Technology Adoption

  • Executive leadership participates in conversations with other leaders about how to instill these values, mindsets, and behaviors in their organization on a quarterly basis.
  • Develop and apply design thinking to critical problems within the organization. Attend all design thinking workshops as a team.
  • Demonstrate an increase in knowledge and experience of technology entrepreneurs and safety net organizations to more effectively co-develop effective and affordable digital solutions that are relevant to serving Colorado’s Medicaid and uninsured populations.
  • Work with at least one vendor to improve a solution that better meets the system’s needs.

 Put Your New Skills to Practice with Demonstrable Tests of Change

  • Identify, prototype, test, and refine at least two physical or digital solutions to improve access to high-quality comprehensive primary care, behavioral health, oral health, or strengthen community health in the safety net.
  • Document and broadly disseminate two case studies (see an example here) and share lessons learned from prototyping and piloting solutions across the Colorado health care safety net ecosystem

 Be a Reliable and Active Contributor to Building the Innovation Ecosystem in Colorado

  • Organization representation attends all network meetings — virtual and in-person — and shares work when prompted.
  • Provide candid feedback and direction to funders to inform their programmatic strategies and prospective investments in health technology via in-person panel presentations, phone calls, and surveys.
  • Form closer connections and better lines of communication regarding organizational priorities across diverse stakeholders in the Colorado ecosystem – provider systems, health plans, entrepreneurs, investors, and public agencies.

Participate in an Evaluation

  • Organizations are expected to be willing respondents in an external evaluation of the innovation community to determine the effectiveness of the program and whether future efforts like this one should continue in Colorado.
  • Organizations will also share health outcome, cost savings, and other impact data related to results of the pilots to gauge sustainability.
Key Dates for Participants

Dates and times are in MOUNTAIN TIME:

Informational Webinar: Register here
Monday, April 15, 2019, 12-1 pm
Application Deadline:  Friday, May 10, 2019, 5 pm
Follow-up Calls (as needed): May 20-24, 2019
Prelimary Cohort Recommendations: Monday, May 28, 2019
Cohort Announced: Friday, June 7, 2019
Co-Design Session with Selected Organizations:  June 19, 2019 (TBC)
Design thinking training workshop 1: October 2019 – January 2020

Three, two-day workshops phased across four months, to be scheduled.

Ongoing participation in learning events and evaluation activities:  June 2019 – March 2021


Programmatic Structure

Below are the initiative phases and timing of activities. Participating organizations take part in all phases.Enlarge Framework

Informational Webinar Slides and Recording

View slides or listen to a recording from our informational webinar on April 15.


What is the typical time commitment for the 2 years?

  • During design thinking training period in fall 2019 – winter 2020: about 15% to work on the project and participate in the training
  • Participate in 2 additional half day meetings / year
  • Webinars – bi-weekly to monthly calls to share sessions
  • Piloting solutions – we provide additional technical assistance & support to those pilots you would hopefully doing anyway

How many members per organization as part of the team:

  • Targeting 4-5 members per team (clinical, operational, project management, IT expertise)

Can funding to be used to augment innovation projects or new ones?

  • Open to thinking about this depending on the project and the value CCI and this project can bring to it

How many days will I be in Human-Centered Design training?

  • There will be three, two-day design thinking workshops between October 2019 and January 2020.

Who’s the best point of contact?

Contact Us

For any other questions, please contact:

Angela Liu
Program Coordinator
[email protected]