Career Advance Colorado is a new program created with wide bipartisan support


The Colorado Community College System (CCCS) recently introduced Career Advance Colorado, a program that will provide money for “tuition, fees, course materials and other covered costs while funding is available,” beginning in August 2023, for students enrolled in:

  • Construction
  • Education
  • Early Childhood Education
  • Firefighting
  • Forestry
  • Law Enforcement
  • Nursing

It is up to students to enroll in applicable schools to be eligible for this funding but CCCS is available to help them find the right program to meet their needs. Career Advance Colorado is funded by HB23-1246 Support In-demand Career Workforce. 

Sponsored by leading Democrats Speaker of the House Rep. Julie McCluskie and Majority Caucus Chair Sen. Janet Buckner, accompanied by distinguished Republicans Assistant Minority Leader Rep. Rose Pugliese and Sen. Perry Will, this new law appropriates $38.6 million for the state board of community colleges and occupational education “to administer the in-demand short-term credentials program to support expanding the number of available and qualified professionals able to meet Colorado’s in-demand workforce needs.”

Funds will go to community and technical colleges, local district colleges, and Colorado Mesa University “to provide assistance to students for eligible expenses that support their enrollment in eligible programs.” Any money left over will be used to pay for student housing, transportation, or food expenses.

Also included in this workforce-centered bill focused on shorter-term higher education is a separate appropriation of $5 million “to create two short-term degree nursing programs at community or technical colleges.”

Another section of HB23-1246 requires the Colorado Office of the Future of Work, which is part of the Department of Labor and Employment, “to provide grants to registered apprenticeship programs that provide training in the building and construction trades at no cost to apprentices.” This program also has its own separate funding of $1.4 million.

Only three of the House’s 19 GOP members voted against the final measure, including Arapahoe County’s Rep. Rod Bockenfeld. Five of 12 GOP senators voted no, including Minority Caucus Chair Sen. Jim Smallwood and Sen. Kevin Van Winkle, both from nearby Douglas County.

Gov. Polis signed the bill into law on May 16.