Published: Aug. 10, 2020

A new partnership among CU Boulder, the Jeffco Schools Foundation, The Ball Foundation and other industry and individual donors will leverage Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative (COSI) funding to provide more than $860,000 in scholarships to Jefferson County students who want to attend college.

Under the terms of a new memorandum of understanding with CU Boulder, the Jeffco Schools Foundation will provide more than $430,000 in matching scholarship funds to double the impact of available COSI dollars in order to increase college accessibility and affordability for thousands of Jefferson County students.

Students from Jeffco Public Schools, the second-largest school district in Colorado, will receive scholarships and academic enrichment programming to support their academic success and degree completion at CU Boulder in partnership with the university’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement (ODECE). The district, which serves more than 84,000 students who attend 155 schools, is one of several community partners CU Boulder is working with to make college more affordable and accessible to Coloradans.

Since its 2014 inception, 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. The program works to lower barriers to higher education and professional training by providing Colorado residents with the academic and financial support they need to pursue their academic goals after high school.

Chancellor Phil DiStefano, a longtime proponent of college affordability and a first-generation scholar himself, lauded the partnership as an effective way of increasing access to higher education for students, including those who may be the first in their family to attend college.

The chancellor said COSI remains a viable option for postsecondary opportunities for Colorado students thanks to the support of Gov. Jared Polis, Colorado Department of Higher Education Executive Director Angie Paccione, state Sen. Rachel Zenzinger and other lawmakers who have supported the scholarship program over the past several years.

“We are excited to add the Jeffco Schools Foundation to our family of partners, which will help us meet the needs of aspiring Jeffco Public Schools students who might not otherwise have access to a world-class education,” DiStefano said.

Jeffco Schools Foundation Board of Directors Chair Dayna Ashley-Oehm said the foundation remained committed to student success and recognized the need for more financial resources to ensure they have access to postsecondary opportunities.

“The partnership with CU Boulder is a big step forward in providing Jeffco students with resources to prosper and thrive,” she said.

For her part, Colorado state Sen. Rachel Zenzinger, D-Arvada, who represents Jefferson County, noted that COSI, now in its fifth year, remains dedicated to pairing state dollars with matching investments to provide Colorado students with financial aid and campus support services.

“We are truly leveraging state and community dollars to ensure Colorado students can access our world-class institutions of higher education such as CU Boulder and provide them with some certainty and a path forward, even in this uncertain time,” she said.

Colorado state Sen. Bob Rankin of Carbondale, R-Carbondale, who has continually supported COSI through his work on the legislature’s Joint Budget Committee, said COSI is a great example of a state investment that has a large impact through the use of public-private partnerships.

“I applaud this partnership between CU Boulder and Jeffco Schools Foundation that leverages private dollars to expand access to higher education to more Colorado students,” he said.

Read more about a scholarship program sponsored by The Ball Foundation that supports underrepresented students at CU Boulder.