Jackie Marquez remembers looking over her notes as she walked into the Denver Capitol building on a chilly January day. Though she was no stranger to public speaking, this day was special. On this day, she would speak in front of the state legislature on behalf of her fellow DREAMers, or young people impacted by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (CADA) program and the DREAM Act. In speaking to the legislature about her success in college, she would advocate for increased funding for college scholarships through the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative (COSI).
“When I went into the Capitol on COSI Day, I was expecting mainly students from Metropolitan State University of Denver, but I was surrounded by students from all around Colorado,” remembers Jackie. “It was really humbling. I saw a lot of high school teachers and counselors. They came to show the support and share how important it is to increase the funding in these institutions.”
Seeing so many supportive faces in the room, Jackie shook off her nerves. When her time at the podium finally came, Jackie knew she had to make the most of the opportunity to show how much college has meant to her and other DREAMers.
Using Her Voice for Change
“I told them I was a DREAMer and that COSI meant a lot to me,” Jackie shares. “Four years ago, it was hard for me to imagine going to college because that status—Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA—wasn’t talked about. COSI opened the doors for DREAMers by extending funding to them. This means I’m included in the package.”
Her success in college, she says, empowered her to advocate for other students to receive life-changing support on COSI Day. Jackie is one of nearly 1,200 students currently served by DSF on the Auraria Campus with support from COSI. DSF provides Scholars like Jackie with on-campus support services and a scholarship.
A Partnership Designed to Multiply Impact
DSF has partnered closely with COSI since the program’s inception in 2014, supporting the development of our collective impact for students like Jackie by matching scholarships with student supports. DSF receives funding through COSI’s Matching Student Scholarship and Community Partner Program grants, which allow for broad community support and donations for scholarships and enhance the level and depth of student support DSF provides.
“The Matching Student Scholarship grant has allowed us to reach a broader audience of community supporters and donors,” explains Michelle Camacho Liu, director of college success at DSF. “With the grant, we can illustrate that financial contributions are being matched. The data show that this partnership is successful, on a student level, across the board. Similarly, CPP has allowed us to increase and deepen the level of direct student support we are provide our students. We’ve been able to build upon and continually improve our student support programming by being able to collaborate and be a thought partner with other grantees and the state in establishing best practices.”
Bringing College Within Reach for Colorado’s Students
DSF and COSI are both committed to increase the accessibility, affordability, and attainment of postsecondary credentials for historically underserved students. DSF’s unique three-part model of college access, scholarship, and college success, established in 2006, supported the development of the statewide COSI program by increasing shared understanding that expanding college attainment for Colorado’s students requires all of these components to be effective and change lives, just like Jackie’s.