Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative 

About the Scholarship Initiative

The Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative (Scholarship Initiative) was created in 2014 with the goal of increasing the attainment of post-secondary credentials and degrees for under-served students in Colorado. The project addresses this challenge in two ways: accessibility and affordability.  To increase accessibility, the Scholarship Initiative funds programs that will help prepare students for post-secondary education, as well as support them through completion. To increase affordability, the Scholarship Initiative will provide tuition support to students via matching funds for community scholarships.

In 2014, the initiative granted $6.8 million - in two year grants - to organizations across the state that work with students to improve access, retention, persistence, and completion of a post-secondary credential. More than two dozen programs from Denver, Pikes Peak, Pueblo, Northern Colorado, and Eastern and Western Colorado were selected as grant partners receiving Community Partner Program grants. Those 28 programs are helping over 20,000 students with post-secondary access, persistence and retention so they can make meaningful workforce connections.

Additional funding for collective impact initiatives, and community partner programs (both continuing partner programs and new partner programs) will be available beginning summer 2016. 
  • Collective Impact Initiative 
    • LOI due February 26, 2016
    • Applications due June 30, 2016
  • Continuing Partner program grant 
    • 2014 grant recipients are eligible to apply for round 2 funding.
    • Application materials and guidelines will be released by June 1, 2016
  • New Partner program grant 
    • LOI due March 18, 2016
    • Applications due April 29, 2016
Leveraging $7 million of start-up funds, the initiative will partner with local programs in FY 2015-2016, matching scholarship dollars 1:1. Learn more about Matching Student Scholarship Grants
  • 2016-2017 funding and applications will be accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis. Applications are due December 2, 2016 (for January 19, 2017 board meeting), February 24, 2017 (for March 15, 2017 board meeting), and April 28, 2017 (for May 17, 2017 board meeting.) Please see the application for full details and instructions. 

Services Map

Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative Service Map

Program Materials

Program Overview

Program Overview

Matching Student Scholarship overview
Matching Student Scholarship Grants 
Community Partner Program Grants Overview

Community Partner Program Grants

CIIG Flier

Collective Impact Initiative Grants

Advisory Board Overview

Advisory Board Overview

Scholarship Initiative Program Update

Program Update Spring 2015 

Program Update 2016

Program Update 
Fall 2016

 Strategic Plan

Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative Strategic Plan

Program Reports

 COSI Legislative Report June 2015

2015 Legislative Report


Rules for the administration of the Initiative

 Evaluation Plan

Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative Evaluation Plan

Mid-Grant Progress

Mid-Grant Progress Report for 2014 Community Partner Program Grants

 MSS 2015-2016 Report Final

Matching Scholarship Qualitative Evaluation
Academic Year 



Board Members

The Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative Board is comprised of the members of the Colorado Workforce Development Council Executive Committee along with three additional appointees who represent the different types of public Higher Education Institutions in the state.

Appointed board members are familiar with the various approaches to student success, academic persistence, and workforce development best practices that, when coupled with tuition assistance programs, ensure students succeed in their post-secondary careers. They are advocates for the program and assist with fundraising and community outreach.

Commissioner Katy Anthes
Colorado Department of Education

Stephanie Copeland

Office of Economic Development and International Trade

Josh Davies
Center for Work Ethic Development

Dr. Kim Hunter Reed
Colorado Department of Higher Education

Dr. Oscar Felix*
Colorado State University

Ellen Golombek

Colorado Department of Labor and Employment

Jay Hardy**
Brinkman Partners

Ryan Keiffer
A-Train Marketing

Kristie LaRose
Lifeloc Technologies

Dr. Byron McClenney*
Colorado Community College System

Wendell Pryor*
Adams State University

Liddy Romero
WorkLife Partnership

Kyle Sickman

*Appointed by Gov. John Hickenlooper pursuant to HB 14-1384 
** Colorado Workforce Development Council Chair

Board Meetings

The Board meets quarterly with the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative staff to ensure program implementation is consistent with statutory requirements. With the help of the board, the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative awarded $6.8 million in grants to 28 student success programs in Colorado in December 2014. The Board is also responsible for the allocation of $7 million dollars for 1:1 matching student scholarships in FY 15-16 and in FY 16-17.

The next regularly scheduled meeting will take place September 20, 2017 from 2:00 - 3:30pm at Colorado Department of Labor and Employment
: 633 17th Street, Denver CO 12th Floor Conference Room. 

9-20-2017 Meeting Agenda

7-19-2017 Meeting Agenda

5-17-2017 Meeting Agenda

3-15-2017 Meeting Agenda

1-19-2017 Meeting Agenda

10-19-2016 Meeting Agenda

8-17-2016 Meeting Agenda

5/18/2016 Meeting Agenda

3/18/2016 Meeting Agenda

1/20/16 Meeting Agenda

11/12/15 Meeting Agenda

9/28/15 Meeting Agenda

8/19/15 Meeting Agenda

5/20/15 Meeting Agenda

3/20/15 Meeting Agenda

12/11/14 Meeting Agenda

8/20/14 Meeting Agenda

*To request meeting minutes, please contact  

A public hearing for the rules for the administration of the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative was held during the August 19 board meeting. Rules are effective beginning October 15, 2015.

Cross-Department Team

Shelley  Banker Director, Scholarship Initiative Staff
Kate Berg Student Success Advocate Staff
Stephanie  Ricker Academic Project Manager DHE
Carl  Einhaus  Director of Student Affairs DHE
Misti Ruthven Director, Postsecondary Readiness CDE
Abigail  Hull Workforce Liaison CWDC
Fred  Franko Workforce Education Coordinator CDLE
Amy           Venturi Deputy Chief of Staff, Gov. HickenlooperGov Office
Rosy  McDonough Director of the Minority Business Office  OEDIT


Shelley Banker, Director
Shelley Banker joined the Colorado Department of Higher Education in August 2014. As the Director, Shelley is responsible for the implementation and management of the Initiative.  Shelley is passionate about fair and equitable education outcomes and enjoys the opportunity to work alongside communities as they develop necessary resources to support students and workforce needs. Previously, Shelley worked with the Mile High United Way supporting former foster youth in their transition to independent living focusing on workforce development and reducing educational barriers. Shelley was also a team member of the Bridge Project building positive connections to education with children from low-income communitiesShelley currently volunteers as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for Denver CASA. 

She received a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Denver focusing on community outreach and studied the use of animal-assisted interactions with youth. Prior to receiving her MSW, Shelley led email and social media marketing efforts for Pearson Education's eCollege, and TopSchool, Inc.

Kate Berg, Student Success Advocate
Kate Berg was born in Louisville, KY but raised in Sarasota, FL. She earned a BA degree in Psychology from Florida State University with minors in Spanish and Child Development. She earned a MA in School Counseling from the University of South Florida. Kate worked 5 years as a Middle School Career Education teacher, Elementary School Counselor, Response to Intervention Coordinator, and Special Education Compliance Coordinator with Florida school systems. With a short sabbatical teaching English to children and adults in Bocas del Toro, Panama she finally landed her feet in Colorado. She moved to Denver in 2011 to participate in a grant project providing workshops to Colorado youth on College and Career Readiness and most recently joined our team in September 2015.

Kate's favorite quote -“When educating the minds of our youth, we must not forget to educate their hearts.” –Dalai Lama

Robin Gentry, Application Developer
Robin Gentry joined Colorado Department of Higher Education in August, 2015 as an Application Developer.  In her role as the Application Developer, Robin is responsible for the creation, management, and continued development of the Scholarship Initiative’s Student Support Directory. Robin has a B.S. in Computer Science from Colorado Technical University.  Robin lives in Colorado Springs with her two sons.

Jay Hale, Financal Assistant 
Jay Angelo Hale is a former History Colorado employee from October 2014-2015 where he was an Administrative Assistant to Michelle Zale the State Controller for the museum. In his role, Jay was responsible for Accounts Payable, receivables, opening and closing purchase orders and contracts. He also helped with fixing and solving issues with the launching of the State's new accounting system, CORE. He is currently pursuing Bachelors in Accounting at Columbia College of Denver with an Associate’s in Business Administration and Human Resources. Jay grew up in Aurora, CO most of his life. He enjoys modifying cars, volunteering and cooking. 

Information Request Form


Colorado Department of Higher Education

Colorado Department of Higher Education
1560 Broadway Street
Suite 1600
Denver, CO 80202
Phone (303) 866 2723