Opportunity Now prioritizes models that serve focus populations in the state of Colorado: those who live in rural areas, have lower wealth, and/or have been disproportionately affected by the economic impacts of Covid-19. Thus, it is important to understand the needs of these populations in order to tailor your model to be responsive to their needs and serve their interests.
The Opportunity Now Grant Administration team has published A Guide to Supporting Focus Populations: Insights from Colorado Employers, Earners, and Learners. This guide is a resource to support applicants in designing and implementing programs with focus populations in mind. This report consists of a literature review of the latest information and best practices around serving focus populations, and stemmed from engaging with community-based organizations and employers who are effectively serving these populations already. The report also details the needs of various focus populations, provides best practices to promote pathways to living-wage jobs, and highlights best practices when implementing work-based learning models.
Needs of Focus Populations
Among the populations who suffered the most severe economic impacts from Covid-19 were adults with some higher education but no degree. According to the 2022 Colorado Talent Pipeline Report, unemployment rate is inversely correlated with educational attainment — in other words, the lower an individual’s educational attainment is, the more likely they are to face unemployment.
Adult learners with some education but no degree need programs and supports that align with their unique realities. JFF’s What Works for Adult Learners: Lessons from Career Pathway Evaluations highlights effective interventions and career pathways that are proven to affect positive outcomes for adult learners.
About Colorado’s Earners and Learners
The 2022 Colorado Talent Pipeline Report also provides detailed information on learners and earners in Colorado’s workforce, which can help you better understand how to support Opportunity Now’s focus populations with attaining job placement and career advancement opportunities.
For example, the report shows that although the unemployment rate for all populations has dropped since the pandemic, the employment rate of Black/African Americans in Colorado has recovered more slowly from the economic impacts of Covid-19 relative to other groups.