The past year has brought many “firsts” for the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center — including our first year-end letter. We finally (finally!) became a tax-exempt non-profit organization after receiving our 501(c)(3) letter in August. Yahoo! That means <ahem> that you can donate to us and <drumroll> deduct it on next year’s taxes!
We’ve continued our energetic outreach to all parts of the community, including “know your rights” presentations to varying civil rights, religious, and disability organizations. We started sponsoring booths at conventions like the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado and the DeafNation Expo and are now hosting monthly Civil Rights Happy Hours in Denver. Nothing brings a bunch of law nerds together like a few drinks and a plate of mac and cheese spring rolls (yes, that’s a real thing)!
This year, we added several CREECsters to the team – a kick-butt staff attorney, Sarah Morris; and two amazing new paralegals, Sophie Breene and Marissa McGarry. We were very psyched to have extern Casey Shea with us for a semester during her victory tour of civil rights organizations. And cutest of all (no offense to our human staff), Holly the Golden Retriever joined our office dog contingent.
We conquered our introvert tendencies and hosted a successful fundraising event, complete with live fiddling and speeches — and of course good food and drink.
If that makes it sound like we’ve just been drinking and schmoozing all year, think again. We got the ball rolling on our investigation and testing program -– one of the reasons we decided to go non-profit in the first place — and started investigating discrimination around the country. Look for a couple of cases coming early in the year that reflect those efforts.
In April, we finally settled Moeller v. Taco Bell — after 12 years of litigation — and are in Structured Negotiations with several large cities to remedy pervasive lack of curb cuts.
We are continuing our efforts — in collaboration with the DU Civil Rights Clinic — to ensure outdoor exercise for Colorado’s inmates in solitary through Decoteau v. Raemisch and Anderson v. Colorado Department of Corrections. This past fall, we joined the ACLU’s National Prison Project and the ACLU of Montana to help implement a settlement with the Montana DOC concerning ADA compliance in the Montana State Prison. We have several cases pending which are part of the Medical Communications Access Project, a project that CREEC started this year — in collaboration with the Colorado Association of the Deaf and Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition — to investigate (and remedy) the failure of doctors, hospitals, and other medical providers to provide effective communication.
All of our adventures have been made possible by the financial, emotional, and intellectual generosity of our friends, family, and colleagues. We look forward to taking on even more new challenges in 2015 – but we need your help to do so! Please consider donating to CREEC this holiday season to help us keep on fighting the good fight.
Happy New Year,
Amy, Tim, Sarah, Sophie, Marissa, Saguaro, and Holly