Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Bell?
The Bell is non-profit, non-partisan policy center. We conduct objective research, and we advocate public policies that reflect progressive values. Our mission is to make Colorado a state of opportunity for all.
To do that, we want to focus debate on the barriers that still stand between many families and their ability to succeed – barriers such as poor schools, poor health, or the lack of job skills. We concentrate on issues affecting educational opportunity, economic opportunity, and health status.
Is the Bell a think tank?
In part, yes, we're a think tank. But "policy center" is probably a better term. We do good, solid research. But we don't just write reports to sit on a shelf.
We advocate for real change based on the research we do. We're about action as well as ideas.
How do you define progress? What do you mean by progressive values?
In general terms, we believe that any individual who works hard should have the opportunity to prosper in America, and we believe that government has an important role to play in ensuring equal opportunity. Specifically, by progressive values we mean:
- Every child should have the opportunity to attend a quality public school
- Every family should have access to health services
- Adults should be able to develop skills and get jobs that pay enough to get ahead
- Families should be able to find affordable housing, child care and other important services
- Families should be able to buy homes and accumulate wealth
- Seniors should be able to look forward to a stable and dignified retirement
- Civil rights and civil liberties should be respected and protected
- The environment should be respected and protected
- Government should be effective and accountable, and that it has an indispensable role to play in removing barriers to opportunity
How does the Bell distinguish itself from other policy centers?
First, we believe significant barriers still stand in the way of too many Coloradans and their ability to succeed, and that our priority as a society should be to remove those barriers. Public policy should focus on opportunity, and on the barriers to opportunity. No other group we know of is offering that kind of broad, inclusive vision.
Second, we believe government plays an essential role in removing those barriers and opening gateways to opportunity. Government isn't always the answer, and there are many areas where government doesn't belong.
But it is appropriate – and at times essential – for society to act through government to enhance opportunity. A proactive government has often been indispensable. Just imagine the United States without the Emancipation Proclamation, the Homestead Act, rural electrification, the Social Security Act, the GI Bill or anti-discrimination laws. Government clearly has a role to play.
Third, most groups focus on a single issue area (like education) or single stage of life (like early childhood). We integrate a much broader range of issues and look at how they relate to one another and how they affect people throughout one's entire life.
For instance, we are very interested in how health or income affects school performance, or how education affects income and the stability of one's retirement.
This is a unique approach, and we think it gives us a clear perspective and helps us set effective priorities for public policy.
And fourth, we have a top-notch research staff and are building an impressive network of fellows and outside experts. There are lots of groups doing good advocacy work. But there aren't many that are able to do quality research and identify long-term solutions. That's especially important as the federal government devolves more programs and decisions to the states. It's also important because few policymakers have the resources to hire research staffs.