Every Coloradan deserves an affordable path into the workforce; Together we can make it happen.


We need to prepare more Colorado youth to enter the workforce. 

The Colorado Paradox: Colorado is one of five states with the greatest number of degree holders per capita, yet only one in five Colorado ninth-grade students will earn a college degree.*

According to the National Governors Association (2013), the economic costs of having under-prepared workers are high. Productivity and wages can influence a worker's ability to participate and contribute to the economy and may increase reliance on public welfare programs. Further, without access to skilled workforce, local businesses are less likely to be successful and thrive, especially in times of economic hardship. 

Education and preparation can change the trajectory of Colorado.  By providing access and ability for Colorado youth to earn credentials and compete in the workforce, we can begin to shift the Colorado Paradox and encourage greater productivity and higher wage earning potential for Colorado youth and their families.

Increasing costs can prohibit students from earning necessary credentials.

Post-high school education is a necessary function of our economy, but financial considerations influence whether or not a student continues their education or enter the workforce at a lower wage job. 

In 2012 - 2013, debt paid for 19% of the total cost of post-high school education in our public institutions' freshman classes. The weight of student loan debt can prohibit a student's access to education after high school - or pay back what they owe - and their opportunity to break continuous cycles of earning below a living wage. 

Helping students access education without borrowing unmanageable amounts of debt will help students acquire credentials, not debt.

Fragmented system provides supports, but not enough.

Communities throughout Colorado have committed to helping students. Aligning these resources can lead to greater efficiency and services for students.

Thousands of educators and donors are already doing what they can throughout the state. Through their supplemental student success programs, non-profits, public-private initiatives and postsecondary institutions are working hard to help students make informed choices and equip them with the skills needed to succeed through their postsecondary education. These practices improve value throughout the system. 

Private tuition assistance helps to eat into the reliance on student debt. Today in Colorado, approximately $25.7M is awarded to students by foundations, institutions, and businesses to help them afford postsecondary education. These efforts increase affordability. 

Strengthening and expanding these effort throughout the state will create more opportunity for Colorado students to earn postsecondary credentials and prepare them to participate in the workforce and earn a living wage.


Mission & Goals

The work of Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative is pursuant to HB 14-1384. 

Colorado has invested $34M into a new initiative intended to inspire our communities to increase their investment in Colorado’s talent pipeline. When we inject resources and alignment into student success and tuition assistance programs, we reduce the financial burden weighing on Coloradans who are pursuing a post-high school education and heading into the workforce.

Phase 1: Increase the availability and quality of student success programs for Colorado's high school and post-high school students. The Scholarship Initiative includes a multi-year commitment to providing grants to improve and grow these programs throughout Colorado.  In fiscal year 2014-2015, $3.4M in program grants will be distributed. 

Phase 2: Leverage public dollars and savings to build a sustainable corpus that can award scholarships to Colorado resident students per year. The students who ultimately benefit from these dollars must fulfill two basic criteria: (1) qualify as 150% Pell Eligible and (2) participate in a rigor-based student success program. By June, 2015 we plan to have increased cumulative public-private investment. Assuming financial goals are met, first scholarships dollars will be awarded in Spring, 2016.


Want to know more about the incredible work already being done by Student Success Programs in our state? Learn more here.

Are you a student success program interested in apply for a program grant? Find the application here.

 *College in Colorado, 2007