Pikes Peak Community College

The Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative has awarded $4.6 million in grants to Pikes Peak Community College and PPCC Foundation to provide scholarships to people who faced profound financial challenges during the pandemic.

The two grants are being augmented by $900k of federal funds for a total investment of $5.5 million.

“Over the next five years, these PPCC programs will support nearly 1,500 Pikes Peak region residents to skill, reskill, or upskill in high-demand fields like health care, education and information technology," said Sen. Paul Lundeen, a member of the Colorado Senate Education Committee. "The shortage of available workers is a serious drag on our industries and businesses — and ultimately on the economic success of our region.”

The largest of the grants, $3.7 million, will fund the Finish What You Started Scholarship. These scholarships will go to adult Colorado residents who nearly completed college, with at least 30 credit hours but haven't achieved a degree.

Participating students will receive $1,250 per semester to fund direct educational expenses and will work with student success coaches to help them in their academic journey. There is also funding for forgiveness of PPCC debt and other one-time expenses related to enrolling.

COSI's Back to Work grant to the PPCC Foundation invests $850,000 over three years, and comes alongside $900,000 in federal funds, for a total of $1.75 million of student-oriented funds.

It supports Coloradans displaced by the COVID-19 pandemic, including those laid off or furloughed, who experienced decreased earnings, had job offers rescinded or could not enter the workforce because of adverse economic conditions. These workers have an incentive to learn new skills and/or complete industry-recognized credentials to improve economic prospects for themselves and their communities.

The scholarships will focus on lifting low-income state residents age 25 years or older who are pursuing degrees and certificates aligned with the region’s greatest workforce needs, with an emphasis on health care, education and information technology. The degrees and certificates to be supported are aligned with Colorado’s Top Jobs, a dashboard maintained by the state of Colorado.

Pikes Peak Community College, which is aligned with the goals to grow the workforce, will add $900,000 of federal relief funds from the American Recovery Plan Act of 2021 to the effort.

Participating students will receive $1,500 per semester to fund direct educational expenses as well as work with student success coaches to help them in their academic journey.

“We were honored to work with the governor’s office and state legislature to help Colorado come back stronger through higher education,” said Dr. Cynthia Armendariz, COSI’s senior program director and operations officer. “The COVID-19 pandemic caused significant economic stress to individuals and businesses. Back to Work and Finish What You Started provide clearly-defined pathways to greater economic security and earning power.”