Gov. Jared Polis speaks on Wednesday, June 2, 2021 at the Boettcher Mansion in Denver. (Olivia Sun, The Colorado Sun)

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis has announced the first five winners of $50,000 scholarships in a program designed to encourage students to get vaccinated against COVID-19. A total of 25 scholarships are being offered by the state, along with a $1 million lottery program for five adults who get at least one shot.

The Denver Post reports that Natalie M. of Centennial, 14-year-old Arianna Garcia of Longmont, 15-year-old Liam Atkins of Boulder, 16-year-old Brett Cheney of Mesa County and 14-year-old Gabriella Sleight of Littleton became the inaugural winners Thursday of the program, which with the lottery is paid for by federal pandemic relief funds.

Colorado resident students ages 12 to 17 who have received at least one vaccine dose are eligible. Those chosen in random drawings can use their scholarships in the post-secondary educational institution of their choice, including colleges and technical, occupational and credential programs both inside and outside Colorado. Five winners will be chosen each week through July 9.

Polis previously unveiled a lottery to reward five vaccinated residents $1 million each to promote COVID-19 vaccinations. Sally Sliger of the Weld County town of Mead won the first prize on Friday.

The Associated Press is an independent, not-for-profit news cooperative, serving member newspapers and broadcasters in the U.S., and other customers around the world. The Colorado Sun is proud to be one of them. AP journalists in more...