Colorado Challenge: Driving degree completion


Initiated in January 2014, the Colorado Challenge was designed to serve the students who most need wraparound services and supplemental

advising—primarily first generation and low-income students, many of whom are also students of color. Utilizing proven methods for student success, the Colorado Challenge seeks to demonstrate that intensive advising, summer transition programs, and strategic data tracking and monitoring influence students’ academic progress throughout their college careers, ultimately resulting in increased persistence and on-time completion rates.

Colorado Challenge counselors work with students throughout their college career, focusing on assisting students in discerning pathways to graduation, navigating the academic world, developing soft skills (e.g. time management and finances), adjusting to the emotional and social challenges of postsecondary education, and the many additional logistical and quotidian concerns students encounter. We even work to provide support and incentives for completing on time, including summer scholarships and pathways to success. Collaborating closely with on campus supports and professional staff, as well as the Daniels Fund, Denver Scholarship Foundation, and Colorado GEAR UP, counselors guide students toward postsecondary success, all while pushing students toward greater independence and self-advocacy.


In keeping with CCHE’s mission and goals, the Colorado Challenge seeks to improve student success and enhance access through postsecondary education to reduce attainment gaps.

The mission of the Colorado Challenge is to increase persistence and on-time completion rates for low-income, first generation students at select public Colorado institutions of higher education. The Colorado Challenge impacts students by providing wraparound services and supplemental advising. These services are primarily provided to Colorado GEAR UP, Denver Scholarship Foundation, and Daniels Fund scholars in concert with said non-profit organizations and students’ institutions of higher education. Additional populations of low-income, first generation students may also be identified to be served.


The Colorado Challenge partnership has identified the following goals:

  • To increase fall-to-fall persistence rates for students served;
  • To increase completion rates for students served;
  • To increase on-time completion rates for students served;
  • To develop replicable and sustainable models for student success that will result in best practices, workshops, and materials that will assist organizations and institutions in serving students; and,
  • To clarify, strengthen, and leverage partnerships between institutions of higher education, non-profit organizations, and the Colorado Department of Higher Education to coordinate efforts around student success.

More information

Contact Cynthia N. Armendariz, Director of Colorado Challenge, at or call 303-862-3001 for more information.