Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed two bills today supporting youth mentorship prgrams and education.
One bill (SB23-003), the Colorado Adult High School Program, is a bi-partisan measure co-sponsored by Sen. Janet Buckner (D-Aurora), Rep. Michael Weissman (D-Aurora), Sen. Bob Gardner (R-Colorado Springs), and Rep. Don Wilson (R-Monument). The bill would require the Colorado Department of Education to create a program for Coloradans 21 and older to attend high school and “earn industry-recognized certificates or college credits” for free.
The second bill (SB23-149), the Higher Education Student Financial Aid For Youth Mentors, introduced by Democratic Senators James Coleman of Denver and Tony Exum of Colorado Springs and Democratic Rep. Jennifer Bacon of Denver, would create a “youth mentorship stipend pilot program” within the Colorado Department of Education. The program would provide money for higher education tuition and funds for student mentors to work for an approved youth membership organization.
“Many Coloradans are forced to leave high school early due to various life circumstances, and face barriers that make it difficult to return and earn their degree,” Buckner said in news release. “This bill creates a pathway for adults to get their high school diploma free of cost. The Colorado Adult High School Program will save folks money while setting them up for success in their careers – helping us build a better Colorado for all.”
Coleman said the new law is “building support systems for our students.”
“Mentorship programs have been shown to improve mental health and performance at work or school for mentors and mentees,” said Coleman in the same news release. “By encouraging more college students to be mentors, we are building more support systems for our students and taking a step toward resolving Colorado’s student mental health crisis.”
“Mentors in youth programs are positive role models that can connect young Coloradans to opportunities that they otherwise would have never known existed,” Exum said. “The pilot program we’re creating in this bill will help college students connect with mentees who might need a helping hand. This important legislation empowers college students to make a difference in the lives of young people in their communities and will have impacts for years to come.”