Since 2020, states have been working tirelessly to meet pandemic-related workforce development needs and economic impacts on cities, regions, businesses, and individuals. In Colorado, the state’s Legislature passed HB22-1350, which established the Regional Talent Development Initiative Grant Program within the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade.
This legislation allocates $85 million in grant funding, supported by both state and federal funds, specifically aimed at creating or expanding innovative talent development initiatives throughout Colorado. Governor Jared Polis summed the program up well: "We are taking a bold new approach to workforce development in our state to meet Coloradans where they are in their lives."
To swiftly transform this legislation into a reality, the state selected Common Group as its partner to develop the initiative's strategy and infrastructure, manage the grant application and review processes, coordinate partner organizations, and handle all stakeholder management, external communications, and branding.
Under Common Group's leadership, the grant application process for the first round of this initiative was launched in December 2022 targeting organizations and partnerships at various stages of development — ranging from early-stage pilot programs to established, evidence-based programs. The application round garnered letters of inquiry from more than 400 organizations across Colorado, and, six months after the initiative launched, the first batch of recipients was announced by Governor Polis accounting for $27 million in grants.
A recent article in WorkingNation featured Opportunity Now, highlighting Colorado's estimation that "250,000 people in the state lack a high school diploma, while as many as 600,000 individuals either lack a college degree or have some college experience. Additionally, 35,000 women left the workforce during the pandemic." Through Opportunity Now, Common Group is helping these Colorado residents connect to educational and employment opportunities that will lead to economic mobility.
For more information about Opportunity Now and additional funding opportunities, please visit opportunitynow.co.