Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative launches new pilot grant in Adams County to explore Pay for Success in higher education

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DENVER – Dec. 7, 2020: The Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative (COSI) today announced a new grant opportunity within its Community Partnership Program for up to $300,000 over two years to improve retention and completion outcomes for underrepresented students. The funds will be used for wraparound student support services intended to re-engage Adams County adults, ages 25 and over, with some college and no degree in Colorado higher education institutions and facilitates completion of a credential or degree that aligns with Colorado Top Jobs.
The partnership between COSI and Third Sector is to forge direct-funding relationships between public higher education institutions and college access and success providers, with the goal of increasing persistence and graduation rates for specific student populations. COSI’s focus is on re-engaging and retaining low-income adults from a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds who have stopped out before completing a degree or credential.
Completing a college credential or degree is critical to economic success,” said Senator Dominick Moreno, who serves Colorado’s 21st Senate district and chairs the Joint Budget Committee. “However, nationwide, more than 29 million students have enrolled in college and left without receiving a degree or certificate. A disproportionate number of these ‘some college no degree’ students are students of color. This issue continues to ring true throughout Adams County and I’m thrilled at the opportunity this grant provides.”

The grant is structured as a Pay for Success (outcomes-based contract) project that includes upfront funding and bonus payments tied to success. It will serve as a pilot for future expansion opportunities across the state and in other communitiesThe grant seeks to contribute to erasing equity gaps between the current attainment level for students of color and the statewide 66% attainment goal, outlined in the Colorado Department of Higher Education's Affordability Roadmap and Master Plan.
"For students who are low-income, adult learners, and/or students of color, additional student support services are crucial for navigating enrollment and persistence through institutions of higher education,” said Caroline Whistler, CEO & co-founder of Third Sector. “The launch of this request for proposal makes CDHE one of the first state higher education agencies in the country to use the Pay for Success model to improve higher education attainment outcomes for adult students by explicitly funding effective supportive services."
Student support service providers, community partners, public institutions of higher education, workforce centers, and other organizations working to support adults in Adams County to complete a credential or degree are encouraged to apply.

“Keeping in line with COSI’s focus on public-private partnerships, we are excited to gain key insights to later expand in Colorado and to set an example for other states to consider similar models,” said Dr. Cynthia Armendariz, director of COSI.

Applications are due Jan. 8, 2021. For more information visit the COSI website. Please send your questions to Recordings of a previously held webinar and responses to the Q & A period are posted here.