Frequently Asked Questions
How do I apply?
Phase 1 LOIs are now closed. Phase 2 LOIs will open July 2023. Join our mailing list to stay up to date on future application windows.
When are Phase 1 grant applications due?
Phase 1 applications are due January 23, 2023. The initial application asks applicants to complete a Letter of Intent or LOI.
What is a Letter of Intent (LOI)?
The Letter of Intent (LOI) is the initial application that all interested grantees must complete. The Letter of Intent is the first step in the process of being selected for a grant. It is used to determine eligibility for Planning and Seed grantees and to select semi-finalists for the Scale grant track. All applicants must submit an LOI to be eligible for a grant in this phase of the program. This process should take applicants 3 to 5 hours in total to complete, requiring around 2-4 pages of written information (700-1000 words in total). The LOI questions and application will be completed through the Submittable platform. For more detail see the Applicant Resource Packet.
What is the Request for Application (RFA)?
The Request for Application (RFA) follows the LOI, during this stage eligible applications will be invited to apply to Planning, Seed, or Scale grants. The RFA will ask for information regarding your proposed solution, target audience, industries addressed, and desired outcomes. The RFA will be shared with advancing phase 1 applicants in March 2023.
What if I am not ready to submit in Phase 1, will there be other opportunities to apply?
Yes, there will be two additional opportunities to apply for Opportunity Now. Applications will re-open for Phase 2 in July 2023 and Phase 3 in April 2024. If you would like to receive updates and reminders on future application windows, sign up for our mailing list here.
Will there be additional application phases after submitting the LOI?
All Lead applicants must complete the LOI to be eligible for Opportunity Now funding. Based on the eligibility of the LOI, applicants may be invited to the RFA to apply for Planning, Seed, or Scale grants. However, each Lead Applicant will only be asked to complete LOI once throughout each round. For additional detail on the application process see opportunitynow.co/about.
Who is eligible to receive grant funding from Opportunity Now?
The primary objective of Opportunity Now is to create job matching and placements for Coloradans. The types of organizations eligible to submit applications as Lead Applicant or Partners 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 detail see the Applicant Resource Packet.
Are partnerships required to submit applications?
Collaboration is a key component to creating intentional pathways between education systems and employment. For each type of grant, the partnership must include at least one industry partner and at least one educational entity. However, for Planning and Seed grants, partnerships can be in the early stages of development at the time of the LOI. For more details on partnership requirements, see the Applicant Resource Packet.
Are there any requirements for partnerships?
All partnerships must include at least one industry partner and one education entity. Industry providers may be for-profit entities or industry or trade associations working in a specific industry. Education entities may be K-12 school districts, institutions of higher education, community colleges, or training providers. For detailed definitions, see the Applicant Resource Packet.
What is a Lead Applicant?
For grantees who apply in partnership with other organizations, a single legal entity must have the legal responsibility, authority for, and control of the use of any grants funds and be responsible for the reporting on any grant funds, and must be able to exercise in fact and law direction, control, and supervision of the proposed project and the grant funds. The entity is described in this framework as the Lead Applicant.
Can a partner be included in multiple applications?
Yes. Organizations can submit only one application as a Lead Applicant but can be a partner on multiple applications.
What is the ideal partnership profile?
Opportunity Now seeks innovative solutions, bringing industry and education systems together to transform workforce development in Colorado. As such, there is no ideal profile for partnerships, beyond the required inclusion of both an education entity and industry partner.
Do I need to be located in, or be serving a particular region?
Opportunity Now partnerships should directly benefit Coloradans. However, partners may be located outside of Colorado so long as the proposed solution serves Colorado residents. The purpose of the region designations is to track the equitable distribution of funds across the state. Applicants are encouraged to select regions that allow them to serve populations of focus for this grant, which includes learners and earners who live in rural areas, have lower-wealth, and/or have been disproportionately affected by the economic impacts of Covid-19.
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 the state of Colorado. There are three different grant types provided through Opportunity Now:
- Planning: Up to $50k, to Provide an onramp to Seed and Scale tracks for organizations in the research or initial development phase of a program
- Seed: $500k-1M*+, to Spur innovation in education to employment and workforce development by creating new partnerships and solutions (*no limit, indicatively up to $2M)
- Scale: $1M*+, to Scale evidence-based practices in education and workforce development that meet employer needs and increase economic mobility (*no limit, indicatively up to $12M)
How will grant types be determined?
Applicants will submit the LOI as the first phase of the application process. Based on the submitted LOI, eligible applicants will then be invited to apply to a Planning, Seed, or Scale grant. Grantees may be eligible to receive grants at various levels throughout each phase of the grant administration window. For more detail on eligibility criteria, please see the Opportunity Now eligibility guidelines in the Applicant Resource Packet.
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. All awards must be spent by December 2026.
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 Resource Packet.
Who will select grantees?
A selection committee will be established and representative of the various types of applicant organizations and communities served. The selection committee will be composed of representatives from the following domains: business, civic/government, education (K-12 and postsecondary), nonprofit, and rural. The selection committee will select and recommend grantees to OEDIT.
What is the grant term for each grant?
Funding amounts are based on whether your solution is in the Planning, Seed, or Scale stage:
- Planning: 3-6 months
- Seed: 1-3 years
- Scale: 1-3 years
For more detail on eligibility criteria, see the Opportunity Now eligibility guidelines.
What are the advancement criteria?
Upon submission of a Letter of Intent, applications will be filtered and evaluated according to program relevance. Relevant applications will then be reviewed to determine the stage of development (Planning, Seed, Scale) to evaluate the proposed solution and partnership. As applicable, Scale grant applications will be reviewed with an advancement rubric. Each stage has a specific set of criteria, and will be assessed on a standardized rubric. To see the advancement criteria and rubric please download the Applicant Resource Packet.
Scale applicants that do not advance through the advancement scoring filter detailed below will be considered for Planning and Seed grants.
Are organizations working to form a partnership eligible for multiple planning Grants?
Yes, each organization within a partnership may be eligible for a Planning Grant. These funds can be used to support collective development of the partnership. Each organization seeking a Planning grant must submit their own LOI.
How were LOIs reviewed?
In Phase 1 we received many high-quality applications among the more than 400 Letters of Intent submissions, and unfortunately, we are unable to advance all of them during this phase of funding.
Each LOI was thoroughly reviewed following the review process outlined in the Applicant Resource Packet (pg 22-25).
While we knew we would not be able to advance every applicant in the first phase of funding, the design of the grant program was to provide multiple phases of funding, with technical assistance and layers of additional funding to further develop grant applications.
For additional detail on the LOI review process for Phase 1 and an overview of Scale, Seed, and Planning RFA applicants see the Phase 1 RFA Applicants Report.
How will RFAs be reviewed?
All applicants who are invited to the RFA will receive a detailed overview of the RFA review process. The process includes multiple phases of review, including the program team, expert evaluators, Community & Advisory boards, and the Selection Committee.
The Selection Committee will be composed of distinguished experts from across the state of Colorado, including experts in economic demands, workforce development, higher education, industry needs, and grantmaking.
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, Strada Education Network, and WestEd. 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. There are eight members of the committee and one advisor. Learn more about Steering Committee members here.
Next Steps & Support
What can I expect after submitting the LOI?
After submitting the LOI for Phase 1, applicants will be notified of the next steps within the following windows:
- Eligible Organizations will be invited to respond to a formal Request for Application on or before March 3, 2023
- Successful Scale applicants will be notified by April 28, 2023
- Successful Seed and Planning applicants will be notified of successful application by May 19, 2023
- Grants will be disbursed pending completion of due diligence June 1-30, 2023
Scale applicants that do not advance through the advancement scoring filter will be considered for Seed and Planning grants.
Who can I reach out to if I have additional questions or require accommodations?
- General questions, accommodations & support: Call 833-721-0206 or visit opportunitynow.co
- Application portal questions & support: [email protected]
- Media inquiries: visit opportunitynow.co
How can I receive technical assistance?
Technical Assistance will be available to potential grantees through hosted resources on the microsite, open webinar sessions, and office hours to answer questions that potential grantees may have. For more detail on technical assistance and upcoming events see the Opportunity Now resources page.