Workforce Development Award Nomination Colorado

Colorado Workforce Development Award Nomination: Colorado Works Subsidized Training and Employment Program

Contact Information of Individual Submitting Nomination

Nominator: Celia Hardin

Email Address:

Agency Name: Colorado Department of Labor & Employment



Colorado Works Subsidized Training and Employment Program

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) is working in an innovative service delivery model with the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) to operate the Colorado Works Subsidized Training and Employment Program (CW STEP). CW STEP creates partnerships between local workforce centers, human service departments, and community organizations with the goal of creating and providing subsidized employment and work based learning opportunities to Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) customers, and to have those customers exit the program to unsubsidized employment at high wages. CW STEP is operating with five grantees, across thirteen Colorado counties, in the Denver metropolitan area and rural communities. The CW STEP collaboration is breaking new ground in Colorado, bringing together two state agencies to better serve their shared customers by braiding funding and resources to provide a constellation of supportive services to aid customers in gaining and maintaining employment with living wages.

Provide a statement of results, accomplishments, impacts, and any other appropriate information that demonstrates why the nominee's efforts described in question #1 were an exceptional contribution. Response (400 word limited).

CW STEP gives low-income job seekers who have struggled with homelessness, domestic violence, and involvement with the justice system a second chance to demonstrate their skills, grit, and determination to themselves and the businesses in their community. CW STEP places resilient individuals in paid internships, apprenticeships, transitional jobs, and on-the-job training experiences. Customers may be paid the prevailing wage, increasing current income and setting higher wage expectations for the future. CW STEP codified and streamlined the model for connecting individuals to opportunities, while streamlining the customer experience in multiple government programs. Duplicative services are eliminated, with agencies focused on what they do best. Before the beginning of CW STEP, Colorado had a 39% entered employment rate each month for all individuals receiving TANF benefits. The average wage was $12/hour. With the dedication of the CW STEP team and participants, 620 customers were placed into a work experience and 54% obtained employment at exit with a $14.70/hour average wage. Beyond the improvement in the lives of participants and their children, the wider community has benefited from this program. Almost all of these families have ended their use of TANF and Food Assistance benefits and their income is spent in their communities.

Provide a brief description of the nominee's significant contributions in any one of the other two areas listed under "criteria" that you did not focus on above. Response (400 word limited).

CW STEP is committed to innovative services for the individual and accomplishes this goal through a variety of state and locally designed processes and practices. All grantees provide customers with personalized subsidized placements and employment planning focused on career advancement and 2-Generation family supports. Grantees are empowered to explore local best practices for customer service and offer a host of supports including weekly professional development and executive functioning classes, bringing the concept of goal setting to employers to provide consistent messaging and progress, and developing efficient evaluation practices for job sites, resulting in more quality feedback to customers. Working closely with business development staff at local workforce centers, placement sites are cultivated with a commitment to customers’ professional development of customers. Partnership between the customer, work experience supervisor, and CW STEP worker creates both a safety net when barriers arise and a connected pathway to unsubsidized employment through regular evaluation of skills and job search support. Close partnership between human services and workforce centers has allowed for both cross-training and resource sharing. This partnership is echoed at the state level, with CDLE and CDHS collaborating to bring advanced motivational interviewing, self-care, and business partnership training to all CW STEP grantees.


Examples of work 

CO - 2019-20_CO_Video Links_Pinnacle WFD.pdf (11.4KB)
CO - 2020_Administrator_Approval-Signed.pdf (17.8KB)