Our primary partner community is Southern Colorado's San Luis Valley (SLV). The six county area of 8,192 square miles includes what is considered the largest alpine valley in the world. At an elevation of 7,500 ft., the valley floor is framed by the majestic Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the east and the San Juan Range to the west.
Originally inhabited by the Ute Indians, the valley was explored by the Spanish as early as the 17th Century. In 1848, the SLV was acquired by the United States from Mexico as part of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. In 1851, New Mexican settlers founded San Luis, generally considered the first town in Colorado.
Today, the primary economic drivers in the SLV are agriculture and tourism. The total population for an area greater than the size of Massachusetts is only 46,190 (2000 Census). The six county San Luis Valley is almost equally divided between Hispanic (47%) and non- Hispanic white (53%). The communities are medically underserved and approximately 18.5% of residents have household incomes below the poverty level.
The Rocky Mountain Prevention Research Center (RMPRC) has focused its efforts in the San Luis Valley, where University of Colorado researchers have been conducting studies in diabetes since 1983. Initially funded in 1998, the RMPRC has worked in partnership with the SLV Community Advisory Board to identify community needs, and to plan research design, implementation, and dissemination. The SLV has a rich Hispanic heritage and a strong history of working together to improve health and the environment in the valley.