CO legislation to fund adult education advances.

April 16, 2014

Colorado took one step closer towards expanding career pathways for adult learners with the passage of House Bill 1085 by the state House of Representatives. The bill provides $900,000 for adult education programs, and would be the first appropriation of its kind for the Centennial State. 

More than 300,000 working age Coloradans lack a high school diploma or GED. Yet, Colorado is the only state that relies only on federal funding to support adult education programs. Limited federal funding and a total lack of state investments means that Colorado only serves 4 percent of prospective students that seek basic skill development.  

The Skills2Compete – Colorado Coalition, led by the Colorado Center of Law and Social Policy, has been instrumental in crafting the funding proposal and building policymaker support for it. The Coalition’s advocacy efforts began long before the start of the current state legislative session. Last summer, Coalition leaders – including NSC Leadership Council member Frank Waterous – met with the legislative taskforce on Economic Opportunity and Poverty Reduction to make the case for such funding, citing that the majority of Colorado’s future workforce is already working. So building the skills of a broader range of workers is essential to closing the state’s pronounced middle-skills gap. The hard work paid off as the taskforce voted to include an adult education funding measure in its package of sponsored bills which no doubt bolstered the bill’s status when it was heard in the House. 

The legislation now moves to the Senate where the Coalition will continue its efforts of securing organizational endorsements, legislative sponsors, and key testimony by education providers, employers and students.