Economic Freedom

Economic Freedom

We believe that when our neighbors have the resources and opportunities to pursue career-based education aligned with their goals and aspirations, they can make intentional life and work choices, ultimately leading to economic freedom. Our commitment to this impact area starts with early care and education and extends through workforce development, creating careers that build generational wealth.

Early Care and Education

Our commitment is to improving access to quality child care and education for Jefferson County residents. Our focus is on increasing availability of affordable and culturally relevant child care that helps families balance work and family responsibilities while laying the groundwork for future success and earning potential.

Why It Matters

Access to quality, affordable and reliable child care is essential for parents and caregivers to participate in the labor force and support their families. High child care costs can strain budgets making it harder to pay for basic needs. Despite the high cost of child care, the workforce caring for our children don’t earn enough to meet the county’s high cost of living.

Early identification and support of a child’s and their family’s needs can improve the child’s social, emotional, cognitive and physical development, which often leads to better health and educational outcomes. Therefore, it’s essential to identify and support children and families early to help them thrive.

What We’re Learning

  • Many Jeffco families are financially burdened by the cost of child care.
  • Families have limited options for child care that meet their needs.
  • Families that are eligible for public assistance programs that help pay for child care, such as the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), aren’t accessing the program because the system is overly complicated.

Our Approach

We will leverage all our philanthropic tools, including grantmaking, across the following tactics:

  1. Support the convening of partners and organizations implementing the Jeffco Bright Futures Roadmap.
  2. Support organizations implementing Jeffco Bright Futures Roadmap strategies.
  3. Bring together stakeholders who are advancing policies aligned to our strategic framework with a focus on increasing access and affordability of quality early care and education programs.
  4. Support evidence-based pilot programs to increase the availability of child care options in Jeffco.
  5. Bring together stakeholders to develop a comprehensive Policy Blueprint aligned with the Jeffco Bright Futures Roadmap to support access to quality early care and education programs, support age appropriate social-emotional development, and coordinate systems that provide support to children and families.
View Grant Opportunity

Workforce Development

Our commitment is to support Jeffco residents as they adapt to evolving job markets and securing better employment opportunities that pay a living wage and keep up with the cost of living. Through education and vocational training, we can help people choose their careers or switch jobs so they can care for themselves and their families.

Why It Matters

Disparities in access to higher education or vocational training limit people’s ability to earn enough to care for themselves and their families. Often people without a college degree or vocational skills earn lower wages compared to their college-educated neighbors. By investing in access to quality educational opportunities, we help people improve their skills, connect with employers, and earn more to support themselves and their families.

What We’re Learning

  • People without a college degree or vocational training are paid lower wages than their college-educated or vocationally trained neighbors.
  • The rate of high school students attending college after graduating has been decreasing since 2009.

Our Approach

We will leverage all our philanthropic tools, including grantmaking, across the following tactics:

  1. Support solutions for learners that yield positive return on their investment (ROI) such as increasing wages.
  2. Promote transparency of education and employment outcomes for learners so they can decide which options are best for them.
  3. Support efforts to bridge the gap between the skills employers are seeking and the skills and training provided in postsecondary and vocational education.
  4. Support efforts to increase access to jobs with livable wages and employer-provided benefits that help people meet basic needs.
  5. Support creation or expansion of evidence-based pilot programs or initiatives that focus on increasing access to jobs with livable wages and benefits.
View Grant Opportunity

Let’s create pathways to prosperity and deliver impact for learners and employers.   

The Jeffco Stackable Credentials Blueprint 

Today’s learners come from a variety of backgrounds and situations. Some are already working, some are getting ready to graduate high school, others are full-time parents or adults who want to return to school to further develop their skills. The path to getting a good job is different for everyone. Think about stackable credentials as building blocks that offer people a sequence of credentials that stack upon each other over time, building their qualifications and helping them move along a career pathway or up to different and potentially better-paying jobs. For example, a learner may enroll in a nursing assistant certificate program, then take the qualifying exam to become a certified nurse assistant, and then complete an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing. The stackable credentials continue to build their skills and knowledge as they prepare for a nursing career. 

We’ve created a stackable credentials blueprint for Jeffco to help learners and employers fill the middle-skills jobs in Jefferson County. 

Colorado Pay It Forward Fund 

The Colorado Pay It Forward Fund provides zero-interest loans to both learners seeking job training and training providers offering quality training programs. The loans can be used to pay for education or living stipends while the learner gets an education and are only repaid is the learner gets a job that pays at least $40,000 a year. Then, the funds are paid forward and used to support the next learner or training provider.

  • Tuition and living expense loans for learners: Education without debt is doable. Learners get zero-interest, no-fee loans to cover tuition for high-quality job training or living expenses during training. After completing training, when they get a job that pays at least $40,000/year, they or their future employers pay back their loans through low monthly repayments. If the learner doesn’t get a job that meets the salary threshold, they don’t pay it back.
  • Working capital loans for training providers and employers: Quality training providers get low- or zero-interest working capital loans so they can serve more learners. This makes it easier for them to hire and retain the local talent they need.

Here’s how you can join our efforts.

Are you an employer? 

To help find and hire skilled people who fit seamlessly into your operation tap into a BetterOffer

Are you a learner? 

Find top job training and apprenticeship programs that can lead to better jobs using a BetterOffer.

Donate to the Pathways to Prosperity Fund

Donate today to help us create opportunities for our neighbors that last a lifetime and work toward a thriving community.

Sign up for our newsletter to stay informed on our workforce development efforts.