As a first-year student in the Leeds School of Business, Jay Meyers, 19, is passionate about business and volleyball. Financial support through the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative (COSI) grant program has allowed him to pursue both at CU Boulder.
“The COSI grant provided me the opportunity to explore my passions, instead of having to take out a lot of loans and work more hours,” said Meyers, who is from Boulder.
And thanks to two new COSI grants totaling $400,000, CU Boulder will be able to offer additional scholarships to students like Meyers this fall.
CU Boulder was recently selected to partner with Boulder County to manage and match the county’s $239,452 COSI grant, which will support 16 Boulder County high school graduates when they start at CU Boulder. The university also received a $160,000 COSI workforce grant, which they will manage and match to support about 50 students as they pursue careers in critical industries.
These Colorado Department of Higher Education grants, which require one-to-one matching funds from CU Boulder, work to lower barriers to higher education and professional training by providing financial support and academic enrichment programming to students for up to five years. Once fully funded, these grants will provide about $800,000 in scholarships to CU Boulder students.
At CU Boulder, the Office of Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement (ODECE) currently manages about $1.7 million in COSI scholarships and ensures mentoring, tutoring, advising and other academic enrichment.
Through these scholarships, ODECE is building stronger relationships with counties and school districts across the state to better serve students, part of CU Boulder’s commitment to expanding outreach to K-12 students from underrepresented communities as outlined in the Inclusion, Diversity and Excellence in Academics (IDEA) Plan, said Chancellor Phil DiStefano.
“Our academic mission as the state’s leading public research university provides Colorado residents from all backgrounds with greater opportunities to pursue college degrees and develop skills that will advance their careers. In addition, supporting first-generation and low-income scholars aligns with our mission, and we are proud to partner with local communities,” said DiStefano, who is himself a first-generation scholar.
CU Boulder receives a variety of COSI grants which are matched through funds raised from private donors and philanthropic industry partners, and also partners with organizations in Jefferson and Adams counties. About 300 CU Boulder students from around Colorado currently receive scholarships through this program.
“These scholarships provide a stable source of support for our students, which increases the ability to pay for college,” said Bob Boswell, vice chancellor for diversity, equity and community engagement. “As the result of partnerships around the state, CU Boulder is now one of the largest COSI recipients, which provides access and long-term financial and academic support to our students.”
Since it started in 2014, COSI has matched dollars raised by communities across the state, leveraging $47 million in seed funding set aside by the Colorado legislature to create a statewide network of student support and scholarship programs for Pell eligible students. CU Boulder provides an equal match to all state funds, doubling the scholarship amount for students.
Colorado counties also receive funds, which they distribute directly to students from their county to attend a two- or four-year college. Counties are also required to connect students with mentoring, tutoring, advising and other academic services, and typically partner with an organization that offers these wraparound services to support student success.
CU Boulder will manage Boulder County’s COSI grant funds, provide academic support for the 16 scholarship recipients and raise matching funds through the CU Foundation. Once fully funded, the grant will provide $478,904 to eligible Boulder County students, many of whom have participated in academic and mentoring programs offered through the I Have a Dream Foundation.
“We are thrilled to be partnering with CU Boulder to offer these grants to 16 high schoolers from Boulder County,” said Marta Loachamin, a Boulder County commissioner and former ethnic studies student at CU Boulder. “These students, for whom college may otherwise be inaccessible, will get closer to financially affording a degree and also accessing the support they deserve to join the CU system and graduate.”
For Meyers, the funding as well as academic support through the Leeds Diverse Scholars Program have been keys to his success so far at CU Boulder.
“Being a part of a diverse community of scholars helped me want to improve myself,” Meyers said. “This has given me so many great opportunities that I can’t thank them enough for.”