Legal and Funding Resources

Colorado has one of the strongest economies in the nation. At the same time, thousands of jobs go unfilled as Colorado employers struggle to find qualified candidates with the right skills to fill those jobs. Addressing the skills gap provides Colorado businesses an opportunity to think strategically about ways to broaden their traditional talent pipelines by engaging youth and other sources of untapped talent. Apprenticeships and other forms of work-based learning offer proven strategies for training and cultivating potential employees and are a foundational piece of creating and maintaining a strong talent pipeline for Colorado businesses. This section addresses common concerns and perceived barriers to hiring youth in the workplace.

Work-based Learning in Colorado: Myth vs. Fact

MYTH:

I can't work with minors. They must be at least 18 years old.

FACT

Minors can legally work at the age of 14., See Colorado Youth Employment Opportunity Act C.R.S. 8-12-101 et seq. Some jobs like babysitting, delivery of newspapers and non-hazardous agricultural work (if minors work with their parents) are permissible as young as age 12.
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MYTH:

Youth workers are free labor.

FACT

Work-based learning is a way for businesses to contribute to the development of future talent to ensure an appropriately skilled workforce. Internships can be either paid or unpaid. For further guidance on unpaid internships, please reference USDOL Fact Sheet 71. Apprenticeships are paid training experiences that provide a higher return on investment for employers. Youth apprentices are considered employees and workers comp coverage will be required.
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MYTH:

My industry/workplace is too dangerous for minors.

FACT

Under State law, there are 12 prohibited occupations for minors 16 and older Colorado Youth Employment Opportunity Act C.R.S. 8-12-101 et seq). Under the Fair Labor Standards Act there are 18 prohibited occupations for minors who are under the age of 18. This leaves a number of occupations where youth can work safely. In most cases, OSHA requirements ensure that you’re already protecting your employees to the same extent you would need to protect a minor. There are many roles that young people can fill that give them exposure to your workplace and can help to spark an interest in long-term employment in your industry.
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MYTH:

There’s too much liability at stake for our company to work with minors.

FACT

Workers’ Compensation protects every employee equally, regardless of age. Neither age nor years of experience are calculated into the cost of providing workers’ compensation nor the payout of claims. Workers’ Compensation is calculated in the same way for all workers regardless of age and is based on (a) salary and (b) the classification of the actual job the WBL student is hired to do. As a result, actual costs are low for hiring WBL students and existing protections are sufficient. Unpaid internships also allow students to gain work experience without being considered an “employee” if they are primarily on site to learn and receive no direct compensation from the company. In such cases, commercial liability insurance (companies) and high-risk accident insurance (school districts) protect students and companies. However, to classify a student as an “unpaid intern,” rather than a paid employee, specific criteria cited by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) must be met.
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MYTH:

Schools won’t allow students to work during regular business hours.

FACT

Through competency based education, project based learning, career and technical education (CTE) and concurrent enrollment schools are providing more flexible scheduling that helps to personalize a student’s learning experiences and can be used for work-based learning experiences. Currently 53% of school districts operate on a four day school schedule providing an entire day where students can engage freely in work-based learning activities. Students aged 16 and 17 may work anytime of the day or night, regardless of school hours, as long as restrictions on the number of daily and weekly hours are followed. Exemptions from some portions of Colorado youth law may be granted as well.

MYTH:

HR says we can’t even bring minors on the floor of our facility.

FACT

Company policy may be the only real barrier to engaging with the most talented and qualified students. There are many ways to ensure quality and safe learning experiences that create a stronger talent pipeline for your company:
  • Partner with a third party like a nonprofit and/or school district to hire minors while they're still in high school.
  • Work with students who have completed substantial safety and training courses in your industry and/or obtained a recognized industry certification. Partnering with Career & Technical Education (CTE) programs are one way to identify these students.
  • Create an internship/part-time position to complete educational/special projects and experience various roles or departments
  • Draft a contract that defines your company’s responsibility for workers such as unpaid interns
  • Provide an umbrella accident policy to protect non-employees (job shadow students, or tour groups)
  • Funding in Colorado

    In Colorado, work-based learning is a strategy that provides individuals with opportunities to gain awareness, exposure and training for in-demand occupations and the skills needed by business and industry. Here is a list of publicly available funding resources throughout the state that can be leveraged to develop work-based learning programs.


    This is not an exhaustive list of funding sources. Additional eligibility requirements and deadlines may apply to secure these funding sources. Please contact the appropriate state agencies for further information and guidance on applying for these funds.

    Adult Education Acts

    The Office of Adult Education Initiatives (AEI) manages the federally-funded Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (AEFLA) grant under Title II of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) and the state-funded Adult Education and Literacy Act (AELA) grant established in 2014. Grants may be used to provide adult basic and secondary education, as well as integrated education and training.

    Requirements
    Adult learners must be 17 years or older and participate in an orientation that includes testing to determine educational functioning level. Learners can attain their high school equivalency while also receiving supports to gain meaningful employment. 

    Max $ per Candidate
    N/A; cost per learner differs depending on a variety of factors. 

    Mechanism
    Adult learners visit a grant-funded adult education program and register. The Request for Proposal (RFP) will be released in the fall of 2019 for the for new grantees in 2019-2020-2023 grant cycle. 

    Contact
    AEI@cde.state.co.us
    303-866-6884

    Resources
    Find a program
    Website

    Advanced Nursing Education Workforce

    Nursing Workforce Diversity supports grants to 14 nursing schools to increase nursing education opportunities for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, including racial and ethnic minorities who are underrepresented among registered nurses. Grant activities will include academic support, financial assistance, and student mentoring. 

    Requirements
    Individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, including racial and ethnic minorities who are underrepresented among registered nurses. 

    Max $ per Candidate
    $4.6 million 

    Mechanism
    University of Denver and Northern Colorado

    Resources
    Website

    ASCENT
    (Accelerating Students Through Concurrent Enrollment)

    Students who have completed at least 12 credit hours of postsecondary course prior to completion of his/her 12th-grade year may be eligible for the ASCENT program. They remain students in their Local Education Provider (LEP) for one year following their 12-grade year, and the LEP receives ASCENT specific per-pupil state funding that it uses to pay their college tuition at the resident community college rate. Students receive their high-school diplomas at the end of their ASCENT year. [C.R.S. § 22-35-108]

    Requirements
    Coursework completed by a qualified student through ASCENT/Concurrent Enrollment, which may include coursework related to apprenticeship programs or internship programs qualifies at basic skills credit or academic credit applicable toward earning a degree at the institution at which coursework is taken or at any other Colorado public institution.

    Courses could replace certain graduation requirements for students in foster care if competency is demonstrated under Colorado HB 18-1306

    Max $ per Candidate
    The ASCENT program is complex and high school counselors are the first point of contact to discuss ASCENT as an option, CDE is also available to answer ASCENT related questions. ASCENT could allow a student to earn two years worth of college credits before being awarded a high school diploma, which significantly reduces the cost of a 4-year degree.

    Mechanism
    Many highly mobile students are eligible for PELL grant through completing the FAFSA. The ASCENT program only covers tuition at the resident community college rate, and the Pell covers a portion of tuition, fees, books and living expenses.

    Contact
    Mary Anne Hunter

    Resources
    Website

    Career Development Success Program

    The Career Success Program was expanded in 2018. The bill provides financial incentives for participating school districts and charter schools that encourage high school students (grades 9-12) to complete qualified industry credential programs, internships, residencies, construction pre-apprenticeship or construction apprenticeship programs, or qualified Advanced Placement courses

    Requirements
    Participating districts or charter schools could receive up to $1,000 for each student who successfully completes one of the qualified programs and will be distributed in tiered order.

    Mechanism
    Colorado Department of Education

    Contact
    Marina Kokotovic

    Resources
    Website

    Career & Technical Education

    Perkins- Federal funding passed through the State CTE office for CTE programs that develop more fully the academic, career, and technical skills of secondary and postsecondary students who elect to enroll in career and technical education programs.

    Colorado Technical Act (CTA)- State funding to support secondary Career and Technical Education Programs

    Requirements
    Eligible agencies qualify for funding based upon their State plans and annual revisions approved under Perkins IV, section 122.

    Secondary CTE programs who effectively complete the program approval process

    Max $ per Candidate
    Per federal formula for eligible agencies

    Reimbursement of general fund dollars spent on approved CTE programs

    Contact
    Sarah Heath

    Resources
    Website

    Colorado First Customized Job Training

    Grants for companies expanding in or relocating to Colorado for training delivered to net new hires

    Program jointly administered by the Colorado Community College System (CCCS) and the Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) and managed through participating colleges. Some monies may be available on a case-by-case basis for registered apprenticeship program development.

    Requirements
    Training must be customized to meet the company’s specific needs. Companies must contribute a minimum of 40% (cash or in-kind) to the total costs of grant-funded training and pay an average hourly wage of at least $13.00/hour in urban counties and at least minimum wage in rural counties. Applications are reviewed on a competitive, rolling basis. Companies must develop and submit applications via their local participating college representative.

    Max $ per Candidate
    $1,400

    Mechanism
    Training costs are reimbursed after training takes place. Training funding is capped at $150,000.00 per application; total training funding is capped at $200,000.00 per company per fiscal year.

    Contact
    Yvonne Gilstrap, CFEI Manger
    Colorado Community College System
    (303) 595-1607

    Kendra Rodriguez, CFEI Asst. Manager
    Colorado Community College System
    (820) 858-2203

    Resources
    CCCS CFEI

    Colorado P-TECH: Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools in Colorado

    P-TECH is an innovative partnership between a school district, a community college(s), and one or more local high growth industry employer(s). As such, students graduate with both a high school diploma and an industry-recognized associate degree in a Science, Technology, Engineering or Math (STEM) focused high-growth industry, in addition to gaining relevant workplace skills.

    Requirements
    P-TECH is open to all students grades 9-14, with a special focus on encouraging enrollment of students who are socio-economically and racially diverse, the first to attend college in their family, English language learners, and students with disabilities. Requirements include: High school diploma + high-grown industry recognized associate degree. Industry recognized pre-apprenticeship and other certificates can be earned in addition to associate degree. Must have a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) focus that is informed by current and projected industry standards. Must receive workplace experiences and training (mentoring, job shadowing, internships, pre-apprenticeship training).

    Max $ per Candidate
    Yrs 1-3: District/Charter School PPR
    Yrs 5-6: State-based PPR Students are eligible to allocate the College
    Opportunity Fund stipend per college credit hour taken.

    Students enrolled in 5th or 6th yr of high school at a PTECH school or program are eligible for f/t funding if they are scheduled for a minimum of one class in the semester.

    Mechanism
    Colorado Department of Education

    Contact
    Mary Anne Hunter

    Resources
    Approved Schools Website

    Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR)

    Works with students with disabilities who are transitioning from high school to post-secondary education and employment. The goal is to promote competitive, integrated employment outcomes for Colorado’s youth with disabilities by incrementally building career pathways with pre-employment transition services as a result of coordinated services with our education, workforce center, and other adults service agency partners.

    Requirements
    Students must be between the ages of 15 – 21, on an Individualized Education Program, 504 Plan or qualify as a person with a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Students must be potentially eligible, applicants or eligible to receive services through DVR.

    Max $ per Candidate
    Every service provided must be necessary and appropriate offered at lowest possible cost as driven by individualized plan.

    Mechanism
    Anyone may self-refer to DVR or be referred through education.

    Contact
    Cheryl Carver, MA, CRC, CVE
    Youth Services & Transition Manager

    Resources
    DVR Website
    DVR Regional Lead Counselor – Each DVR Region has a Lead Counselor for Transitioning Youth who also serve as liaisons for connections at the local level.

    Enterprise Zone New Employee Credit

    A tax credit offering to businesses/ non-profits if located in an economically distressed area for economic development activities

    Requirements
    Must be located in an enterprise zone and pre-certify with state prior to activity.

    Max $ per Candidate
    $1100 per net hire and
    $750,000 cap for business expenses

    Mechanism
    Pre-certify and claim with taxes at the end of the year

    Contact
    Edward Fuerte
    720-913-1800

    Resources
    Website – with list of tax credits available

    Existing Industry Customized Job Training

    Grants for existing companies in CO to help them remain competitive, adapt to new technology, and prevent layoffs. Program jointly administered by the Colorado Community College System (CCCS) and the Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) and managed through participating colleges. Some monies may be available on a case-by-case basis for registered apprenticeship program development.

    Requirements
    Training must be customized to meet the company’s specific needs. Companies must contribute a minimum of 40% (cash or in-kind) to the total costs of grant-funded training and pay an average hourly wage of at least $13.00/hour in urban counties and at least minimum wage in rural counties. Applications are reviewed on a competitive, rolling basis. Companies must develop and submit applications via
    their local participating college representative.

    Max $ per Candidate
    $1,200

    Mechanism
    Training costs are reimbursed after training takes place. Training funding is capped at $150,000.00 per application; total training funding is capped at $200,000.00 per company per fiscal year.

    Contact
    Yvonne Gilstrap, CFEI Manger
    Colorado Community College System
    (303) 595-1607

    Kendra Rodriguez, CFEI Asst. Manager
    Colorado Community College System
    (820) 858-2203

    Resources
    CCCS CFEI

    Federal Bonding

    A business insurance policy that protects the employer against financial loss due to theft, forgery, larceny, or embezzlement caused by employee dishonesty

    Requirements
    Applicants denied coverage by commercial carriers because of:

    • Record of arrest, conviction or imprisonment
    • History of alcohol or drug abuse
    • Poor credit history
    • Lack of an employment history
    • Dishonorable Discharge
    • Special situations requiring fidelity bond

    Max $ per Candidate
    $5,000

    Mechanism
    Recovery of demonstrated financial loss due to employee (no deductible) for up to 6 months

    Contact
    cdle_fbp@state.co.us
    303-318-8961

    Resources
    Federal Bonding Program

    Governor’s Summer Job Hunt

    Funding to local workforce centers to support young people into internships/work experience and marketing of summer program.

    Requirements
    Funding is disbursed through the workforce center system and participants must be 16-24.

    Max $ per Candidate
    Varies

    Contact
    Steve Wright

    Resources
    Website

    Jobs Plus Pilot Initiative

    Provides intensive, employment-focused programs targeting every able-bodied, working-age welfare recipient at a public housing development.

    Requirements
    Public Housing residents only

    Max $ per Candidate
    $30,000,000- $100,000,000

    Mechanism
    HUD

    Resources
    Website

    Rehire Colorado

    A transitional employment program created by the Colorado Careers Act (HB13-1004) of 2013 and administered by Colorado Department of Human Services. The goals of this program is to help individuals with barriers to employment re-enter the workforce by combining wage-paid work, job skills training and supportive services

    Requirements
    All participants must meet the following minimum eligibility criteria:

    • Lawfully present and eligible to work in the United States
    • Colorado residents
    • At least 18 years old
    • Not incarcerated or otherwise unavailable for work
    • Family income below 150% of the federal poverty level, as adjusted for family size
    • Unemployed, or employed for no more than 20 hours per week, for at least four consecutive weeks
    • Demonstration of active job search through the public workforce system

    Max $ per Candidate
    Determined by the contracted vendor managing the program and their budget allocation agreement from the program

    Mechanism
    Direct referrals state staff through email, plus Discover Goodwill in El Paso and Teller, Larimer County Workforce Center, Catholic Charities in Pueblo, Colorado Coalition through 12/2018…RFP in process for the next 2.5 years to select vendors

    Contact
    Steve King

    Resources
    Website

    State Apprenticeship Expansion Grant (USDOL)

    Federally-funded grant to expand apprenticeship programs state-wide

    Requirements
    Participating workforce centers may subsidize up to $3000 per participant for apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship training.

    Max $ per Candidate
    $3000 per apprentice

    Mechanism
    Funds supplied to WFC via NFA

    Contact
    Michael Muszynski

    Resources
    CDLE PGL

    STEP

    This interagency collaborative program launched in January 2018, Colorado Works Subsidized Training and Employment Program (CW STEP) helps connect at-risk populations who are eligible for basic cash assistance from Colorado Works——with crucial professional work experience and opportunity.

    Requirements
    At-risk populations who are eligible for basic cash assistance from Colorado Works, a federally funded program providing temporary cash assistance for needy families

    Mechanism

    • Front Range Alliance servicing Arapahoe, Douglas, Boulder, Larimer, El Paso, Teller, Jefferson and Weld counties;
    • Discover Goodwill of Southern and Western Colorado servicing El Paso and Teller counties;
    • Rio Grande County Department of Social Services servicing Conejos, Mineral and Rio Grande counties;
    • Hilltop Community Resources, Inc. servicing Mesa County. from Jan. 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019.

    Contact
    jonl.gallegos@state.co.us

    Resources
    Website

    Student Re-engagement Grant

    The Student Re-Engagement Grant Program assists local education providers in providing educational services and supports to students to help them maintain engagement and/or support re-engagement at the secondary level.

    Requirements
    Funding may be used to support activities and strategies focused on student engagement and student re-engagement and improvement of Postsecondary Workforce Readiness performance indicators

    Max $ per Candidate
    $100,000

    Mechanism
    Colorado Department of Education

    Contact
    Fumnanya Camara

    Resources
    Website

    WORK Act Grant

    A 6-year state matching grant designed to increase awareness of, enrollment in and completion of Colorado’s skilled worker training programs.

    Requirements
    This grant is for any government or nongovernment entity that offers or plans to offer a skilled worker training program and has partnered with industry sectors. A training program must be an:

    • accredited educational training program,
    • occupational education training program,
    • apprenticeship, or
    • similar training program

    This opportunity does not include funding for bachelor’s or higher degrees.

    Max $ per Candidate
    $7.6 million for outreach efforts and updating training, no maximum request per applicant. Eligible applicant shall not use grant money for tuition subsidies or to reduce tuition.

    Mechanism
    Grant application to CDLE

    Contact
    Elizabeth Shupe

    Resources
    Website

    Work Opportunity Tax Credit

    Federal-level tax incentive that benefits employers and qualified workers

    Requirements
    The new hire must belong to one of nine WOTC target groups:

    • Hire a Hero
    • High risk or summer youth
    • Veteran food stamp recipients
    • Disabled Veterans
    • Ex-felons
    • Vocational rehabilitation referrals
    • Welfare/TANF recipients
    • 18 –39-year-old food stamp recipients
    • SSI recipients
    • Long Term TANF recipients
    • Designated community residents

    Max $ per Candidate
    $2400-$9600

    Mechanism
    Report filed with annual income taxes to offset business tax owed

    Contact
    www.colorado.gov/cdle/taxcredits
    303-318-8845

    Resources
    Brochure

    Work Training Experiences

    Planned structure learning for career exploration funded 100% through WIOA

    Requirements
    Employee must be enrolled into WIOA program before the start date of the WTE. Cannot exceed 12 weeks, 25 hrs. maximum per week, and position pays state minimum wage or more. (Local workforce Centers may vary in funding.)

    Max $ per Candidate
    $6,000 (Local areas may vary)
    100% paid wages through WIOA funding WE State Requirements

    Mechanism
    Grant application to CDLE

    Contact
    www.yourworkforcecenter.com

    Resources
    Website

    YouthBuild

    YouthBuild is a community-based pre-apprenticeship program that provides job training and educational opportunities for at-risk youth ages 16-24 who have previously dropped out of high school. Youth learn vocational skills in construction, as well as in other in-demand industries, including health care, information technology, and hospitality.

    Requirements
    Funding is provided to local nonprofits including Mile High Youth Corp.

    Mechanism
    USDOL

    Resources
    Website