Investing in Denver’s Workforce & Economic Future: Benefits of the Denver Scholarship Foundation

The Denver Scholarship Foundation is making a difference. We are transforming lives and expanding horizons.

And now we have the evidence to prove it.

As we’ve worked with scholars to pay for college and stay in college, we’ve seen that the Denver Scholarship Foundation is having a positive impact. Anecdotes are important, but we wanted more. We wanted to better understand the workforce, economic and social impacts that are the direct result of attaining a postsecondary degree or certificate. We wanted to understand the impact on our scholars and also on the Denver community as a whole.

This report, conducted by the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education and Development Research Partners, offers the evidence we needed.

Investing in Denver’s Workforce & Economic Future: Benefits of the Denver Scholarship Foundation shines a bright light on the societal and economic benefits that are the direct result of increasing rates of college entrance and completion for our scholars and their families.

As we celebrate the 10-year mark of our work, we are proud of our progress, including:

  • Awarding over 5,000 DPS graduates with $30 million in scholarships, an amount doubled by our college partners, who have stepped up to invest an additional $50 million in our scholars;
  • Seventy-three (73%) percent of our scholars have completed a postsecondary credential or continue to work toward that important milestone;
  • Over 1,500 of our Scholars have graduated from college.

Our needs-based award is helping combat long-standing racial and economic disparities in college access and success.  Our work is focused on DPS graduates—69 percent are Latino and African American and 69 percent qualify for free and reduced lunch. Further, 72 percent of our Scholars will be first-generation college graduates.

As this study demonstrates, while Colorado ranks in the top five for the number of degree holders per capita, only one in four of our state’s high school freshman will go on to earn a postsecondary degree.  Contrast that worrisome statistic with the demand for a college-educated workforce (by 2020, 74 percent of all jobs in Colorado will require some level of college education or training) and it’s easy to see we have a long way to go.

This study confirms the benefits of postsecondary success.  A higher level of educational attainment means a lower unemployment rate and higher earnings potential.  For the Denver Metro region, the study finds that the average Denver Scholarship Foundation investment in a graduate returns $9.59 for every $1.00 in scholarship, in federal, state and local taxes paid.

In 2014, we were humbled when DPS Superintendent, Tom Boasberg, called out the Denver Scholarship Foundation for contributing to DPS’s strides in student achievement. This study establishes the importance of our role in strengthening the workforce and adding to the economic success of the region.

From helping to meet the demand for skilled workers in Denver’s fastest growing fields to combatting male arrest and incarceration rates with higher educational attainment, there is a substantiated need for what the Denver Scholarship Foundation provides.

The need is clear. Now, we also know what works.

With such a high return on investment, we will continue our work with urgency. Nearly a decade ago, we had high hopes for the impact and potential of the Denver Scholarship Foundation.

Today, it is rewarding to understand the positive impact and imagine a future when our investment in human capital pays even greater dividends within and beyond our community.

Cathey M. Finlon 
Interim Chief Executive Officer
Denver Scholarship Foundation

Linda Bowman
Board Chair
Denver Scholarship Foundation