The state will enter Coloradans ages 12-17 who have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine into a sweepstakes for a $50,000 college scholarship, Gov. Jared Polis announced Wednesday.
Twenty-five total Colorado kids will win.
There drawings each Monday in June, winners will be chosen and revealed the following Friday. The first drawing will be held June 7 and the last winner will be revealed on July 9.
“We know that the pandemic had a very significant impact on students and on education. We saw undergraduate enrollment decline over the last year and a half,” Angie Paccione, executive director of the state department of higher education, said at a news conference Wednesday. “Many first-year students decided to take a gap year. And so this is a way, this scholarship sends a clear message to our state that we need you for our Colorado comeback.”
Polis said any person in the 12-17 age group who has been vaccinated in the state will automatically be entered into the eligibility pool.
Winners will have their scholarship money deposited into a 529 CollegeInvest account that will grow over time. The funds can be used for technical programs and credential programs, not just four-year institutions.
The money can be used to cover tuition at any college, not just in Colorado.
The scholarship drawings come in addition to a $5 million coronavirus vaccine sweepstakes Colorado is offering for people 18 and up who have received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine. The first drawing for that pool happens Wednesday and the winner will be announced Friday.
The five winners of the adult sweepstakes will get $1 million each.
Funds for both campaigns come from the CARES Act, the federal stimulus passed in March 2020.
Polis said a quarter of 12- to 17-year-olds in Colorado have already been vaccinated with at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine. The Pfizer vaccine is the only COVID inoculation currently available to that age group in the U.S.
The sweepstakes are aimed at boosting Colorado’s stagnant vaccination rates and building off the success of Ohio, which was the first state to introduce a similar set of sweepstakes initiatives. Ohio’s vaccination rate increased after its sweepstakes were announced, leading a number of states to follow suit.
“Every winner is an ambassador for the vaccination program,” Polis said, “to demystify it, to highlight it, to show that there’s still many more prizes ahead.”
Polis also introduced the Power the Comeback Business Pledge on Wednesday, an initiative to encourage business leaders to help promote vaccinations.
Under the pledge, businesses can commit to a number of steps to promote vaccination and COVID-19 safety, including asking unvaccinated people to wear masks indoors, hosting vaccination clinics for employees providing incentives to employees to get vaccinated, and reminding employees to get vaccinated.
“Colorado businesses big and small have been supporting the state’s pandemic response in many ways,” said Pat Meyers, executive director at the Office of Economic Development and Trade, “and they are now powering our economic comeback.”
Meyers added: “The more Coloradans are vaccinated, the more our economy can grow.”