Phase 2 provisional applicants will be notified late January 2024.
Phase 3 grant cycle starts mid-2024. Join our newsletter for the latest updates.

Frequently Asked Questions

Getting Started

How do I apply?

You can apply by visiting apply.opportunitynow.co or by clicking the “Apply” button on the website menu. 

In order to submit a Request for Application (RFA) or any subsequent application to Opportunity Now Colorado, you must have a Submittable account. 

  • If you already have a Submittable account, go to this link. Click the ‘Sign-In’ tab and enter the email address and password associated with your account to sign in. If you don’t remember your password, use the Forgot? link.
  • If you don’t have a Submittable account, you can can create a free account by filling out the ‘Create-Your-Account’ form:
    • Click the ‘Sign-Up’ button. You will use this log-in information for your organization whenever you submit on Submittable– whether with Opportunity Now or in the future with other grant programs.
    • Once you have submitted an application, you can check the status of your submission by logging in to your Submittable account.

Eligibility & Evaluative Criteria

Who is eligible to receive grant funding from Opportunity Now?

Opportunity Now Colorado funding is for partnership-driven models that create job matching, placement, and advancement opportunities for Coloradans to achieve a high-wage job. All Opportunity Now applications must represent partnerships of organizations or entities. The types of organizations eligible to submit applications are organizations representing employers, especially chambers of commerce and industry associations, and education institutions including but not limited to education providers K-12 school districts, institutions of higher education, community colleges or training providers, and businesses of all sizes. For more details, see the Applicant Process Guide.

Are partnerships required to submit applications?

Yes. Collaboration is a key component to creating intentional pathways between education systems and employment. For all grant tracks, the partnership must include or be in the process of securing at least one industry partner or at least one training, educational, and/or community partner. For more details on partnership requirements, see the Applicant Resource Packet.

Are there any requirements for partnerships?

Scale and Seed applicants’ programs must include at least one industry partner and one training, education, and/or community partner (including the Lead Applicant). Planning applicants’ programs must include at least one industry partner and one training, education and/or community partner at least in the process of being confirmed.

Industry partners and training, education, and/or community partners may be any type of organization and come from any industry; the classification depends on the role the partner is playing and the activities it performs. For detailed definitions, see the Applicant Resource Packet.

What is a Lead Applicant? What is a Fiscal Lead?

Submissions must be led by a single Lead Applicant responsible for serving as the intermediary across all the partners in the partnership. They are likely also accountable for the overall success of the program, and can be either an employer, education provider, or community organization.

Lead Applicants may choose to partner with another organization to serve as the Fiscal Lead who will have the legal responsibility, authority for, and control of the use of any grant funds. This organization within the partnership will also be responsible for any reporting associated with the grant funds, and be able to exercise in fact and law direction, control, and supervision of the proposed project and the grant funds.

Please note that even in cases where the Lead Applicant and Fiscal Lead are separate entities, the Lead Applicant is responsible for following compliance and spending guidelines.

Public institutions of higher education (IHEs) are considered state agencies as part of the government of the State of Colorado. Therefore, funds granted to public IHEs are not considered “obligated” under federal regulation and need to be spent by December 31, 2024 as opposed to the longer SLFRF expenditure deadline of December 31, 2026.

To mitigate this risk, we are recommending that public institutions of higher education work with a separate Fiscal Lead organization to which the funds can be “obligated” (this could be a 501(c)(3) connected with the institution or another form of fiscal sponsor). Note that we do not recommend working with a foundation as a fiscal sponsor and pass-through. We also encourage other organizations to keep this in mind prior to naming a public IHE as the Fiscal Lead of a partnership.

Can a partner be included in multiple applications?

Yes. Organizations can be listed as a partner organization on multiple applications, but they may only submit one application as a Lead Applicant.

What is the ideal partnership profile?

There is no ideal profile for partnerships beyond the required collaboration of both industry/employer and education entities to transform workforce development in Colorado. For more guidance on best practices, please visit our Application Guide to learn more.

Do I need to be located in, or be serving, a particular region?

Opportunity Now partnership models should directly benefit Coloradans with job placement and/or advancement. However, both Lead Applicants and partners may be based outside of Colorado so long as the proposed solution serves Colorado’s residents. 

Opportunity Now asks you to state the regions you are targeting for the job placement/advancement of individuals in order to ensure funds are distributed equitably across the state.

What is an industry partner?

Industry partners can be any organization or entity that works in or represents the program or solution’s target industry. They may also be an end employer for placement/advancement into living-wage jobs. For more details, please refer to the Applicant Process Guide.

What is a training, educational, and/or community partner?

Training, educational, and/or community partners can be any organization or entity that provides any of the following:

  • Curriculum and/or curriculum design
  • Credentials and/or certifications
  • Outreach and/or recruitment assistance
  • Coaching, transportation assistance, and other wraparound supports

For more details, please refer to the Applicant Process Guide.

Is my organization eligible?

Organizations are eligible if they have a recognized legal existence and structure under applicable law (State or Federal) and are in good standing in the jurisdiction under which they are organized. 

The following are ineligible persons or entities: 

  • Any organization debarred, suspended, or otherwise excluded from or ineligible for working with the State of Colorado or participation in federal assistance programs or activities, per 2 CFR Part 180 restrictions
  • An individual

For additional definitions on eligible organizations, be sure to check out the Applicant Process Guide.

Is my program or model eligible for Opportunity Now funding?

In order to receive high level feedback on your eligibility and track it for Opportunity Now funding, we strongly encourage you to complete the Pre-Screening Application that opens on August 10 and closes on August 24. In addition, we encourage you to keep in mind the following:

  • Opportunity Now will fund models that create job matching for Coloradans through education and industry partnerships. Industry partners can be any organization or entity that works in or represents the program or solution’s target industry. They may also be an end employer for placement/advancement into living-wage jobs. 
  • Opportunity Now seeks solutions that fit the purpose of one of the three grant tracks — Scale, Seed, or Planning. See “Awards” section below. 

For more details, please see the Applicant Process Guide.

My SAM.gov account expired– can I still apply?

If you have a SAM.gov account, even an inactive one, you should still have the UEI number and be able to provide it in the application. Should you be awarded, your organization’s SAM.gov number will be reviewed prior to receiving a grant.

Will priority be given to Phase 1 applicants/grant recipients?

All Phase 2 applications will receive equal priority regardless of whether or not an applicant applied in Phase 1. Phase 2 priority will be given based upon statewide priority industries: Health care with a particular focus on behavioral health, early childhood education, primary and secondary education, and infrastructure including construction and advanced industries

As a reminder, the Phase 2 selection criteria are not identical to what they were in Phase 1. For a detailed breakdown of the rubric and point allocation per criteria for each track, please review the Phase 2 Request for Application Process Guide

All applications will be assessed for overall capability and potential for impact in Colorado. During the Deliberation and Final Selection stage of the review process, regional and industry representation, populations served, grant request amounts, effectiveness of job placement, economic mobility and cost effectiveness will be considered.

How does Opportunity Now define innovation?

Opportunity Now defines innovation as a novel approach backed by evidence, a new application of an existing approach, or a new business or delivery model that yields significantly better economic mobility outcomes for individuals than the current models available.

Types of innovation include:

    • New and yet-to-be-proven models
    • Applications of proven models from other states and/or industries to a Colorado region/industry
    • Applications of proven models for a specific population not yet served by the model (that requires adaptation to meet this population’s unique needs)

 Examples of innovative models include, but are not limited to:

    • Creating a brand-new model utilizing a novel approach informed by a strong theory of change and research and/or evidence from other relevant models or programs that suggests achievability of economic mobility outcomes
    • Adapting a training, hiring, and/or retention model with proven effectiveness from another state and applying it to Colorado employers
    • Expanding and adapting an earn-and-learn program with proven effectiveness to a historically underserved community that has not yet had this model available to them, tailoring it for the population’s specific needs

What are the statewide priority industries?

Phase 2 priority will be given based upon statewide priority industries: Health care (with a particular focus on behavioral health), early childhood education, primary and secondary education, and infrastructure including construction and advanced industries

How many partners are expected for a competitive application?

There are no expected numbers of partnerships per program for any track, as each program is unique and the key to a strong application is genuine, mutually beneficial partnerships. The number of partnerships we saw in the last phase of grantees can be found in this article on the Resources page of our website. 

Will the Lead Applicant receive industry-led booster points if they’re both an educational institution and the end hirer?

If the Lead Applicant’s role in the program/model is to hire participants who complete the program/model, then they are considered an industry partner, regardless of whether or not they are also an educational institution. In the Seed rubric, there are bonus points if the program/model is led by the industry partner, meaning that the education institution doing the hiring would need to be the lead applicant that is running the program/model.

Should a Foundation be a Fiscal Lead?

Although foundations may be viable Fiscal Leads on behalf of the program, we do not recommend it as not all foundations are able to meet the requirements of serving as a Fiscal Lead, such as undergoing annual audits and meeting reporting obligations.

If you feel your foundation of choice is able to meet requirements like these and you choose to designate a foundation as a Fiscal Lead, note that the grant administration team may inquire further to assess their readiness to serve in that role during the due diligence phase.

What if my Fiscal Lead can’t provide audited financials?

If independent audited financials are not available, applicants should provide financial statements reviewed or complied by CPA in accordance with GAAP with opinions. If these are not available, applicants, at minimum, should provide financial statements for the most recent fiscal year complied in accordance with US GAAP, with evidence of reviews and approvals by executives and board.

Why do programs serving rural regions receive bonus points?

Rubric enhancements between Phases 1 and 2 were made in response to the need to ensure that Opportunity Now funds are granted in a manner that meets the program goals laid out in the HB22-1350 legislation. 

Serving rural populations has been a priority consideration from the inception of Opportunity Now, as laid out in the HB22-1350 legislation. In order to meet the continued need to fund programs serving rural Coloradans, the Phase 2 rubric allows for these programs to receive “bonus” points during the review process as a formalized mechanism for identifying those programs/models which serve rural populations. This change in the rubric is meant to elevate applications serving rural populations in an effort to balance the regional representation in the pool of applications without detracting from programs/models that are otherwise serving high priority populations.

Can a college or university submit multiple applications?

Multiple applications from one college or university may be submitted so long as all of the following conditions are met:

  • The Lead Applicants are different departments within the institution
  • The programs/models are distinct

If applications do not meet these conditions, applicants will be notified during the screening process and requested to select one application only.

In this event, the Opportunity Now team will reach out to the point of contact for each application and ask that they indicate which application should move forward by a given deadline.

Note: Public institutions of higher education (IHEs) are considered state agencies as part of the government of the State of Colorado. Therefore, funds granted to public IHEs are not considered “obligated” under federal regulation and need to be spent by December 31, 2024 as opposed to the longer SLFRF expenditure deadline of December 31, 2026. 

To mitigate this risk, we are recommending that public institutions of higher education work with a separate Fiscal Lead organization to which the funds can be “obligated” (this could be a 501(c)(3) connected with the institution or another form of fiscal sponsor). We also encourage other organizations to keep this in mind prior to naming a public IHE as the Fiscal Lead of a partnership.

Note that we do not recommend working with a foundation as a fiscal sponsor and pass-through, as not all foundations are able to meet the requirements of serving as a Fiscal Lead, such as undergoing annual audits and meeting reporting obligations. 

If you feel your foundation of choice is able to meet requirements like these and you choose to designate a foundation as a Fiscal Lead, note that the grant administration team may inquire further to assess their readiness to serve in that role during the due diligence phase.

What is the estimated amount of people to be placed for Seed versus Scale?

While there is no expected number of people placed, in the first phase of Opportunity Now, the total number of placements for all 5 Scale grantees is less than 3000, while the total number of placements for all 9 Seed grantees is less than 2000. 

That being said, there is no set number of placements that we expect or look for when reviewing programs. 

To determine the best fit track for your program, we recommend you review the definitions of the Scale and Seed tracks along with the rubrics for each, which are found in the Applicant Process Guide. Based on that, your program should apply for the track for which you see strongest alignment. For example, the Seed track is very focused on innovation and the Scale track focuses on programs with a strong evidence base.

What is the ideal range for the cost per learner (CPL)?

We are not able to provide a range, as there is variability given program stage, industry, target population, etc. The most important consideration is that applicants provide context about their CPL calculations in the space provided. This is where you can provide information about the stage of your program and other factors (industry, duration, target population, etc.) that might impact the CPL numbers. 

How specific should we be when filling out our Program Implementation Timeline? How do we calculate the “associate numerical outcome” for an activity?

The Program Implementation Timeline was developed to streamline the application to award process. Should your application be selected for award, this document would form the foundation of your Statement of Work (a key piece in our contract/grant agreement document). It is up to your organization as an applicant to determine which activities you will track and measure. This should tie into your application and may include areas such as participants enrolled, participants placed in jobs, etc. Other milestones should be tracked as well, and should be designed to fit the program you are proposing (i.e. number of workshops held). The “associated numeric outcome” refers to a quantifiable way to measure outcomes as deemed appropriate for your program.

We understand that there may not be a metric for every step of the program, so please use this as a rough outline of key factors that indicate progress and success in your project’s work.

Could you please provide an example of a successful logic model?

As a reminder, you don’t submit a logic model in the application, but rather making a logic model may guide you in structuring and more fully answering application questions. Application questions are designed to follow the framework of a logic model.

On our website, this page provides insight as to what a logic model is and why we recommend using it, in addition to hosting a template for organizations to use. 

Some quick overview notes:

  • Inputs are the various resources available to support the program (e.g., staff, materials, curricula, funding, equipment). Activities are the action components of the program (e.g. develop or select a curriculum, write a plan, implement a curriculum, train educators, pull together a coalition). These are sometimes referred to as process objectives. 
  • Outputs are the direct products or services that are produced by the activities (both administrative and program related); should be directly observable and recordable. Outcomes are the intended accomplishments of the program. They include short-term, intermediate, and long-term or distal outcomes.

Can I reopen and edit my application once it has been submitted?

To ensure a fair and equitable process for all applicants, we are unable to re-open applications or accept additional materials outside of the Submittable platform once an application has been submitted. This policy upholds the integrity of the application process. Note, if you were able to submit your application, then you have completed all required and evaluated fields. 

I faced technical difficulties when submitting. Can I reopen and edit my application given the extended Phase 2 deadline?

We understand applicants faced various technical issues, and we sympathize with the frustration this caused. While we are unable to make case-by-case exceptions, the deadline extension provides additional time specifically for those applicants who were prohibited from submitting initially to work with Submittable support and submit their application. This extension aims to accommodate those affected by technical errors while maintaining an equitable process for all. We appreciate your understanding as we aim to uphold a fair, consistent application process during this challenging situation. Note, if an applicant withdraws their application and submits a new one, their new application will not be accepted. 

Awards

What are the different grant types?

Established by the Regional Talent Development Initiative Grant Program (HB22-1350), Opportunity Now provides $85 million in grant funds to create or expand workforce development initiatives across Colorado. There are three different grant tracks provided through Opportunity Now:

  • Seed: Create innovative models and/or use innovative approaches to solve a problem in education-to-employment and workforce development
  • Scale: Scale education-to-employment and workforce development programs and solutions that have a demonstrated evidence base and proven economic mobility outcomes and are ready to significantly grow in reach and impact
  • Planning: up to $49.9K (ceiling); Support the exploration or initial development phase of a program to provide an onramp to additional funding and continued operations

What grant track should I apply for?

The best way to understand what track to apply for is by submitting a Pre-Screening Application. While the Pre-Screening Application is optional, by completing it the Grant Administration Team will be able to provide a preliminary assessment and feedback on which grant track (Scale, Seed, or Planning) the applicant may be most competitive in during the Request for Application (RFA) stage.  For more details, please see the Grant Tracks and Timeline section in the Applicant Process Guide.

How can Opportunity Now Colorado grant funds be used?

As these awards are to be made with federal funds under the American Rescue Plan Act, all uses of funding must comply with 2 CFR 200 (Uniform Guidance) and the Final Rule. All budgeted costs must be allowable, allocable, reasonable, and thoroughly justified in the application documents.

Capital investment is a permissible use of funds. However, proposed capital expenditures will be evaluated against the program goals to ensure that funds are used to meet the objectives described within the grant timeframe. Equipment and other capital expenditures are unallowable as indirect costs, per 2 CFR 200 regulations. For more information, please see the Applicant Process Guide.

How will winners be selected?

Many individuals will be involved in the review and selection process, from Grant Administration team members to professional evaluators and expert advisors. 

Final recommendations will be made by a Selection Committee composed of distinguished experts from across the state of Colorado in such areas as employer needs, economic development, workforce development, higher education, and grantmaking. The Selection Committee will select and recommend grantees to OEDIT, who will make final grant award decisions. OEDIT will consider regional and industry representation, populations served, grant request amount, and cost effectiveness in their selection of a final portfolio of grantees. For more information on who participates in the review and selection process, see the Applicant Process Guide.

What is the grant term for each grant?

Grant terms are based on whether your solution is in Scale stage, Seed Stage, or Planning stage:

  • Planning: 3-6 months
  • Seed: 12-32 months
  • Scale: 12-32 months

The target start date (grant contract execution date) for all grants is April 10th, 2024 pending completion of due diligence. 

For more details, please see the Grant Tracks and Timeline section in the Applicant Process Guide.

What is the process for requesting a budget modification after receiving a grant?

If a budget modification is needed, please reach out and we will provide a template to fill out. After receiving the budget modification request, we will review and let you all know if it was approved. Please do not assume approval until official communication is received.

How is the timeline between Phase 1, 2, and 3 designed?

Opportunity Now follows a timeline that allows for the strategic disbursement of all funds allocated by the American Rescue Plan Act, in accordance with legislation HB22-1350.

The funds that the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) is granting via Opportunity Now are federal dollars obtained through the federally-funded American Rescue Plan Act. In order for the State of Colorado to retain these funds, all funds awards must be obligated and allocated before December 31st, 2024. On December 31st, 2024, any federal dollars that have not been obligated will be automatically returned to the United States Treasury.

Program Administration

What legislation governs the establishment of the Opportunity Now Fund?

Opportunity Now is governed by HB22-1350, Regional Talent Development Initiative Grant Program. Additional detail on the legislation can be found here.

    Who is the Grant Program Administrator?

    OEDIT has selected a grant administration team to administer the grant program, led by Common Group and in collaboration with Mile High United Way, WestEd, and Strada Education Network. Collectively these organizations have led programs granting nearly $800 million in the last five years, including SyncUp Colorado, the Beyond Completion Challenge, and the K12 Strong Workforce Program in California. 

    What is the role of Opportunity Now partners?

    Opportunity Now partners are responsible for grant program development and administration, including providing customer support and technical assistance throughout the duration of the program. 

    What is the role of the Steering Committee?

    HB22-1350 legislation requires the appointment of a Steering Committee to support the program administrator in implementing and administering the grant program. OEDIT has formed a Steering Committee that will provide guidance in the development of the grant application and execution process. The steering committee will consist of leaders from business, K12 education, postsecondary education, and workforce development. We have eight members of the committee and one advisor. Learn more about Steering Committee members here.

    Is the evaluation committee the same as Phase 1?

    The review and selection process for Phase 2 of Opportunity Now has been streamlined based upon applicant feedback from Phase 1. Please see Appendix B in the Phase 2 Request for Application Process Guide for details on how the Phase 2 review process will go. The Opportunity Now review will utilize selectors who will receive extensive training to support process consistency.

    Next Steps & Support

    Who can I reach out to if I have additional questions or require accommodations?

    How can I receive technical assistance?

    Technical Assistance will be available to applicants through the Resources page of this website, open webinar sessions, and office hours to answer applicant questions. See the Technical Assistance section of the Applicant Resource Packet for more details on technical assistance and upcoming events.

    How can I change our Submittable account owner?

    The Opportunity Now team does not have access to or control of an applicant’s Submittable account. Applicants will need to direct any technical support questions, such as account ownership changes, through the Submittable platform and should contact technical support here: [email protected], as we don’t have access to an applicant’s Submittable account or information. 

    If you submitted a PSA, your PSA will be saved under the organization’s title as opposed to the account owner’s contact. Because of this, all your organization’s information is saved even with changing contacts.

    When will Phase 3 launch?

    Phase 3 applications will launch in Summer 2024. Exact timing is subject to change. Visit this page to join our mailing list and stay up to date on future application windows. 

    How can I receive more support with my application in future phases?

    We encourage interested applicants to attend our Technical Assistance Learning Community Events as an opportunity to learn more about ways to strengthen your application and program development in service of Opportunity Now program goals. 

    All events are recorded and posted, and we encourage live participation to receive an enriching experience for dialogue and building a community of practice. You can sign up by visiting this link

    Technical Assistance support is provided to applicants during the RFA phase, and information on future events can be found on the program website and mailing list. 

    If awarded, when will funds be disbursed? When will funds need to be spent?

    All grant payments will default to being paid on a cost reimbursement basis. All Opportunity Now grantees are expected to submit quarterly financial reports, which will be used to generate a quarterly invoice detailing costs incurred against the program. All awards must be spent by December 2026 (or December 2024 for public institutions of higher education without a separate fiscal agent) . 

    For additional detail on allowable costs, please see the Applicant Resource Packet.

    Can I access a copy of my application for my personal records?

    Please see the following resources from Submittable to access your application. For additional questions, reach out to [email protected]

    Pre-Screening Application Window: 8/10/2023 – 8/24/2023

    What is the Pre-Screening Application?

    The pre-screening application is an optional but highly suggested part of Phase 2 of Opportunity Now Colorado application process. It will replace the required Letter of Intent from  Phase 1. The purpose of the Pre-Screening Application is to screen intended applicants for program eligibility and alignment with program goals of Opportunity Now Colorado. Benefits to applicants include a preliminary assessment and feedback to guide applicants to the track they would be most competitive in, and allowing applicants an early start to start pre-planning their RFA application. 

    Pre-Screening applications will be available on opportunitynow.co on August 10 and open until August 31, when the RFA window opens. The RFA window opens on August 31 and closes on October 19.

    What can I expect after submitting the Pre-Screening Application?

    Following the submission of the Pre-Screening Application, applications will go through a screening process by the Grant Administration Team to determine program eligibility and track fit. Applications deemed eligible will receive a recommendation for the track for which they will be most competitive for the RFA process. All Pre-Screening applicants will be notified by August 30, 2023. 

    Note that there will be no assessments on any application’s program quality or preparedness, as this will be assessed during the RFA process. See the Applicant Resource Packet for more details.

    How will my Pre-Screening Application be reviewed?

    Each application will receive a review using the Pre-Screening Application Eligibility Rubric. Only eligible applicants will also receive a review using the Pre-Screening Application Track Fit Rubric. See the rubrics in the Rubrics section of the Applicant Process Guide. All applications will be reviewed by members of the Grant Administration Team.

    Can you provide additional feedback on my Pre-Screening Application?

    The feedback you will receive about your  Pre-Screening Applications will be limited to your eligibility and track fit. We encourage interested applicants to attend our Learning Community Events as an opportunity to learn more about ways to strengthen your application and program development in service of Opportunity Now program goals. 

    All events will be recorded and posted, and we encourage live participation to receive  an enriching experience for dialogue and building a community of practice. You can sign up by visiting the resources page  (see events posted at the bottom of this page).

    Additional Technical Assistance support will be provided to applicants during the RFA phase, and more information on future events can be found on the program website and mailing list.

    What if I am not ready to submit in Phase 2? Will there be other opportunities to apply?

    Yes, there will be one additional opportunity to apply for Opportunity Now. Applications will re-open for Phase 3 in Summer 2024. Please note that there will be less funding available in Phase 3 and a shorter implementation phase for grants. 

    If you would like to receive updates and reminders on future application windows, sign up for the program mailing list via opportunitynow.co.

    Request for Application (RFA) Window: 8/31/2023 – 10/19/2023

    What is the Request for Application (RFA)?

    The Request for Application (RFA) is the full application for eligible applicants to formally apply for a Scale, Seed, or Planning grant. The RFA will ask for information regarding your proposed solution, target audience, industries addressed, and desired outcomes. The RFA will be open from August 31, 2023 to October 19, 2023 for Phase 2. 

    Can I submit an RFA if I did not fill out the Pre-Screening Application?

    Yes, all eligible applicants may apply in response to the upcoming Request for Application without submitting a Pre-Screening Application. However, applicants are highly encouraged to fill out the Pre-Screening Application to receive guidance, matchmaking opportunities, and a head start on the RFA process. 

    What if I am not ready to submit my RFA at this stage? Will there be other opportunities to apply?

    Yes, there will be one additional opportunity to apply for Opportunity Now. Applications will re-open for Phase 3 in Summer 2024.  Please note that there will be less funding available in Phase 3 and a shorter implementation phase for grants. 

    If you would like to receive updates and reminders on future application windows, sign up for our mailing list here.