Published: March 16, 2022

CU Boulder’s precollege programming and high-impact physics research and education will receive additional funding as part of the recently passed $1.5 trillion federal appropriations omnibus bill for the 2022 fiscal year.

“As a former first-generation college student, I am thrilled the omnibus funding bill includes resources for CU Boulder to expand its outreach and services to rural first-generation students in Colorado,” said CU Boulder Chancellor Phil DiStefano.

The campus’s Office of Precollege Outreach and Engagement in the Office of Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement partners with communities around the state to provide about 1,800 first-generation and low-income students and their families with comprehensive college preparation and social development programs. The omnibus bill funds will designate $275,000 for this precollege programming.

This funding will help strengthen CU Boulder’s precollege outreach programs in partnership with local school districts in Morgan County and the San Luis Valley supporting about 160 additional students, said Christopher Pacheco, assistant vice chancellor for precollege outreach and engagement.

Pacheco said the outreach programs are part of CU Boulder’s ongoing efforts to develop partnerships in communities with limited access to precollege prep programs. 

“Our programs support students academically and personally while in middle and high school and prepare them to transition successfully to postsecondary opportunities, whatever that may look like,” Pacheco said. “We are excited about this opportunity to expand and enhance our programming in communities where we know students have great potential for postsecondary success.” 

The CU Federal Relations team worked with Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Colo., a CU Boulder alumnus and former CU regent, and Colorado Sens. John Hicklenlooper and Michael Bennet to champion the funding within the annual spending package.

Refreshed JILA labs

Founded in 1962, JILA (a partnership between CU Boulder and NIST) is a world leader in quantum sensing research, workforce training and industry engagement. JILA scientists have helped develop technology that has been implemented in space, while others are looking into using lasers to help with diagnosing respiratory illnesses. Over time, though, age has taken a toll on JILA facilities. 

The CU Federal Relations team worked with senators Hickenlooper and Bennet to secure $950,000 in funding for JILA through the omnibus bill to give its labs a refresh.

According to JILA COO Beth Kroger, the funding will pay for much-needed research equipment in the JILA instrument and electronics shops, as well as equipment for CU Boulder’s JILA Keck Metrology and Clean Room Core Facility, which serves the campus and provides important research capabilities.

Other omnibus bill highlights

The federal appropriations also include more than  $5 billion for wildfire management, including $8 million for the Joint Fire Science Program (JFSP), which funds scientific research on wildland fires, $18.8 billion for disaster response and recovery efforts, millions for local firefighting crews, and an increase for the Community Development Block Grant program that could help those impacted by the Marshall Fire and others. The legislation also directs the JFSP to fund research to enhance wildfire resilience as requested by CU Boulder.

The bill also includes dedicated funding for NOAA, the National Science Foundation and NASA Space Grant program and an increase in special education funding. 

Learn more about the bill

Read the March 16 federal relations update from the CU system Office of Government Relations, Outreach & Engagement.

The University Consortia for Space Technology will receive $10 million. The focus of the consortia is the translation of fundamental research and early-stage technology development and workforce development in support of the national security space enterprise, in particular within the U.S. Space Force.

The CU Federal Relations team also worked with Rep. Jason Crow and senators Bennet and Hickenlooper to create the university-led consortia within the fiscal year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act and secured the $10 million within the final omnibus package. Space Force will be charged with executing the program, and CU Boulder is expected to play a prominent role.

In addition, the maximum for a Pell Grant will increase to $6,895, an increase of $400 above the 2021 fiscal year cap, which will aid low-income college students. CU and its national association partners at AAU and APLU have advocated for doubling the maximum Pell Grant award.

The legislation also includes funding increases that could benefit the Cooperative Institute for Research In Environmental Sciences (CIRES), a partnership between CU Boulder and NOAA. The package includes $89 million—an increase of about 18%—for NOAA’s 15 Climate Cooperative Institutes, including CIRES. It also includes significant increases (over 25%) for the programs that fund two CIRES programs: the Western Water Assessment and North Central Climate Adaptation Science Center.

“The bill invests in science and our federal labs, specifically designating funds for programs housed in the 2nd district to advance Colorado’s leadership in climate science and STEM engagement,” Neguse said. “The plan supports our communities in recovery with robust investments in wildfire management, disaster response and local firefighting operations and expands opportunities for our students with an increase in special education funding, something we’ve long advocated for.”