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The Boulder County chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has implemented a program to promote diversity in the workforce. It has added a corporate membership.

Its corporate membership offers four levels of commitment to business owners ranging from annual payments of $1,000 to $10,000. Various perks include the business name listed in the NAACP business directory, event entries and memberships for company employees. For the Henry Moskowitz membership at $5,000 and W.E.B. DuBois at $10,000, companies have access to the ambassador program.

Membership fees go toward NAACP programs and operational costs. So far, five companies have joined as corporate members.

The ambassador program reviews companies and guides them toward policies with inclusion and equality in mind. Every company in the program will receive hands-on, tailored training from NAACP volunteers, said Jude Landsman, chair of the NAACP Economic Opportunity Committee for Boulder County.

“Black people in Boulder are kind of invisible to the community, and that needs to change,” she said. “And part of the ways that needs to change is to create a more inclusive and supportive environment.”

Boulder County is a predominantly white region with only 1.2% of the population being Black or African American, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. As recorded in 2012, the 4,078 minority-owned firms are eclipsed by the 85,849 nonminority-owned firms in the county.

Landsman said that after speaking with Boulder County employees and business owners, the NAACP concluded that recruitment and retention of minority workers is a common issue. She added that though the region is looked to as an open-minded environment, it has failed to promote inclusion in its workforce.

“There is a difference between what perhaps the advertised notion of what Boulder is and what the reality is for Black and people of color who are actually living and working here,” she said.

The Boulder County business community increased its interest in promoting racial equality in response to the weeks of protests that erupted across the U.S. demanding justice for Black people who died at the hands of police, Landsman said.

“That is refreshing and we’ll see where that leads,” she said.

The Boulder County NAACP chapter has existed for only a few years. Landsman said that it now has a large enough presence to launch initiatives like the ambassador and corporate membership program. The chapter recently joined the Boulder Chamber and is working with it to promote Black-owned businesses, which Landsman calls “a step in the right direction.”

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