Portfolio: Workforce Development

Portfolio: Workforce Development

In Colorado, and specifically Jefferson County, a vast majority of jobs that pay a wage sufficient to sustain a family require some post-secondary education beyond a high school diploma. And according to the Education to Employment Alliance, in Colorado, nearly half (49%) of the jobs require workforce training beyond a high school diploma, but not a four-year degree, also known as middle-skills.

Only 15% of our working-aged community members have middle-skill credentials, which creates an opportunity divide. *And in Jeffco, this crippling skills gap is felt across construction and other skilled trades, advanced manufacturing, health care, and information technology, where the worker shortage is acute. As a result, workforce development continues to be a pressing issue for businesses, educators, and opportunity seekers with a priority to close the skills gap.

We’re working with partners to support efforts that help our neighbors get and keep good-paying jobs by supporting efforts that meet the needs of both employers and learners.

Colorado Gives Foundation recognizes that when all our neighbors are economically secure, it’s good for everyone. A thriving community means everyone in our community has equal access to jobs that pay livable wages with essential benefits, regardless of race, gender, or disability status.

*Maximizing Human Potential and Economic Mobility for Coloradans, Education to Employment

Our Approach

We are connecting philanthropic, public and private capital with partners to invest in ways to better understand our community’s needs with workforce development and prepare Colorado residents for in-demand, well-paying jobs. Our current priorities include: 

  • Solutions for Learners and Employers.
    
Finding solutions that meet the needs of both learners and employers is good for business and community. 
  • Transparency on Employment Outcomes.
    Aspiring learners want to confidently choose programs that lead to better employment outcomes without accumulating debt. By gathering and assessing data on education and training programs, we can create trust and transparency for learners. 
  • Industry and education training alignment.

    Colorado Pay It Forward Fund (COPIFF) seamlessly bridges the gap between education and industry needs. COPIFF ensures that workforce training programs connect directly with local employers’ needs and requirements, making the learning journey more purposeful. 
  • Scaled and Innovative Models.
    Through scaled and innovative models like COPIFF and stackable credentials, we’re breaking down barriers and creating opportunities. 
    • Focus on diverse and under-represented, and under-employed communities.
    • High program completion and job placement rates.
    • Program graduates secure jobs with livable wages.
    • Committed employer partners who prioritize hiring program graduates.
    • Ongoing data collection and sharing that validates student and employer success.

In Action

Colorado Pay It Forward Fund
Colorado Gives Foundation is working with funders across the state through a creative financing tool called the Colorado Pay It Forward Fund (COPIFF). This fund offers financing for residents to access workforce training for in-demand and well-paying jobs. Opportunity seekers can access information to vetted high quality training programs on BetterOfferCo.org.

Training programs on COPIFF must have demonstrated outcomes for opportunity seekers on the path to livable wages in less than a year and meet these qualifications.

  • High completion and job placement rates.
  • Program graduate starting wages of at least $40,000+ per year.
  • Partnerships with employers who prioritize program graduates in their hiring.
  • Ongoing student and employer success metrics.

For learners, this means better job prospects. For employers, it means finding skilled individuals who fit seamlessly into their operations. This is transforming education into meaningful employment opportunities.

Jeffco Stackable Credentials Blueprint
We’re working with partners to implement the Jeffco Stackable Credentials Pathways Blueprint. This blueprint lays out a process for creating stackable credential pathways for in-demand jobs that require education beyond high school but not necessarily a four-year degree (so-called “middle-skills jobs”). Jobs in this category make up the largest part of the labor market in Jefferson County (Jeffco), a large suburb of 570,000 residents west of Denver. These are the construction workers who maintain infrastructure and repair our homes, healthcare technicians who care for our children, paramedics and wildland firefighters who keep us safe, and the machinists, electricians, and computer network specialists who keep our economy running. 

Stackable credentials offer solutions to meeting the needs of both employers and learners. Through certificate programs that build on each other and often lead to degree completion, learners are able to progress along their education or career continuum and this is good for everyone.

Get Involved

A thriving workforce is good for everyone and we’re working to transform education into meaningful employment opportunities. Here’s how you can join our efforts.


Are you an employer? Tap into the A Better Offer program to find and hire skilled people who fit seamlessly into your operation.

Are you a learner? A Better Offer program can help you find a better job.

Help our neighbors get good jobs without debt by donating to Pathways to Prosperity Fund.

Stay Informed

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