In 2014, the Colorado legislature committed $35 million toward a new initiative to create a network of student support and scholarship programs throughout the state to boost attainment of postsecondary credentials. By increasing student success programs and financial resources, the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative will result in greater postsecondary access, persistence and retention for youth.
Inspired by the success of the Denver Scholarship Foundation, the Gov. launched a statewide collective impact campaign called the Colorado Scholarship Opportunity Initiative. This program matches community dollars to fund student support organizations and scholarship programs across the state. In the first four years, $39 million has been awarded (leveraging $20 million in additional local and private dollars) to serve more than 60,000 students across its programs. Internal studies using the latest available data show most COSI students enrolled in CPP program—87 percent—persist in their education path, 15 percentage points higher than peers of similar demographic groups. Students who receive COSI scholarships perform even better: 89 percent continue on in their second and third years, outpacing their non-COSI counterparts by 25 percentage points.
In December 2014, the Initiative awarded $6.8 million in program grants. In 2016, the program invested another $800,000 in New Partner Programs in 2016, approximately $2 million in continuing funding for the first round grantees, known as “Legacy Partners”, and $900,000 toward collective impact initiatives across the state. The third iteration of grant funding in 2018 awards approximately $6.4 million to community partners through a new funding model aimed at improving the alignment of CPP with the CDHE Master Plan goals and CDE goals. The new model works to improve programmatic success through measurable metrics.
Annually, the Board approves the amount of funding that will be made available and awarded during the next fiscal year. Currently, this awarded amount is set at $7.5 million ($5 million for counties, $1.5 million for institutions of higher education and $1 million of workforce development projects). In FY 2018 - 2019, COSI will award $7.5 million in MSS. Due to the COSI grants’ responsiveness to communities’ needs, grant amounts vary and are matched and dispersed on flexible schedules which provides variance between awarded funds (funds that are approved by COSI advisory board in a specific year and encumbered for future fiscal years) and funds which are distributed to grantees in a specific fiscal year. In 2017-2018 MSS distributions equaled $4.2 million to 6,000 students, leveraging an additional $4.2 million in private funds. COSI also forecasts additional funds for future years based on past expenditures, expected program growth and future needs.