We can no longer allow economic status to dictate the opportunities Denver’s youth can pursue.
Having a post-high school degree or certification is nearly a requirement in today's workforce. But for far too many Denver students, earning a degree is simply out of reach. The exceedingly exorbitant cost of tuition slams the door of opportunity in the faces of our young people. This November, we have the power to change that.
I’m voting Yes on Initiative 300 – Prosperity Denver, a ballot measure that would allow more Denver students to afford college, because I know what it’s like to be a devoted student and still feel like college is an unreachable dream– a privilege exclusive to the wealthy. Growing up, I received free and reduced lunch, learned English as a second language, and didn’t know the first step about applying to college.
But I was lucky – I had a few remarkable teachers who led me through the application process. I paid for classes at Colorado College through scholarships, three on-campus jobs, and loans. I somehow made it work, but many of my friends and classmates weren’t as fortunate.
Denver students shouldn’t have to rely on luck to be able to continue their educations.
Initiative 300 is a minor investment that will have a major impact in the lives of Denver youth. A sales tax of just 0.08% – about a penny on a $10 purchase – will create a dedicated fund to underwrite scholarships for college and technical school, based on a sliding income scale, so the students with the most need get the biggest scholarships. Denver residents between the ages of 18 and 25 with a high school diploma or GED who have lived in the city for at least three years will be eligible for the program.
Denver Public Schools is working hard to ensure students are prepared for a vibrant future. Passing Initiative 300 will allow our community to build on that progress and equip our young people with the skills and knowledge needed to lead tomorrow’s world.
By 2020, nearly 3 in 4 jobs in Denver will require more than a high school education. Yet currently less than half of our adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher. And even more startling only two in10 Latinos are graduating college. We must act now to strengthen the skills of our emerging workforce, so our city can continue to thrive and innovate.
Bright, hardworking, ambitious young people in Denver are deprived of achieving their dreams simply because they can’t afford it. That’s wrong, and as a community, we can – and must – do better.
Graduating from Colorado College remains one of the most transformational moments of my life. It opened a whole new world for me, allowing me to become a teacher and enabling me to continue to give back to my hometown of Denver today as a member of the school board.
The students who will be able to attend college because of Initiative 300 will become our next doctors, teachers, engineers, business owners, and even school board members.
Invest in Denver’s future by voting Yes on Initiative 300. Mail in your ballots by Oct. 30th or drop them off by November 6th.
Angela Cobian represents School Board District 2 in Southwest Denver on the Denver Public Board of Education. She is a first-generation Mexican-American from southwest Denver and is the first in her family to graduate from college. The Denver Public Board of Education voted unanimously to support the Prosperity Denver Initiative 300.