Colorado unveils scholarship program to incentivize COVID vaccination among community college students

There are 67 scholarships available through the program, 65 of them for $1,000 and two for $5,000.

Governor Jared Polis stands at a podium in front of a green wall. Large bright lights glare to the right of the governor.

Colorado leaders on Wednesday announced a new scholarship program for community college students in the state who have been vaccinated against COVID-19. 

There are 67 scholarships available through the “Shot at a Scholarship” program, 65 of them for $1,000 and two for $5,000. Students at the 13 colleges in the state’s community college system can enter the scholarship drawing through Sept. 15. 

The scholarship program, funded with $75,000 from Amazon, is among the state’s latest efforts to incentivize Coloradans to get vaccinated as the more contagious Delta variant gains traction around the state and nation. Earlier this summer, the state ran a similar vaccine incentive program for students ages 12-17 along with a million-dollar giveaway for adults, but it’s not clear whether those efforts affected vaccination rates. 

Many four-year colleges in Colorado are requiring students to be vaccinated this fall, but students in the state’s community college system generally don’t have to be. Some community colleges may mandate vaccines for students who live in residence halls or play on college sports teams. Colorado’s community college system includes most but not all of the state’s community colleges. The Greeley-based Aims Community College, for example, is not part of the system.

At a press conference Wednesday announcing both the scholarships and a separate Walmart gift card giveaway for vaccinated residents, Gov. Jared Polis said just over 70% of Colorado adults have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine, and that he ultimately hopes to get vaccinations rates to around 85%. 

He said the vast majority of hospitalizations and deaths from COVID during the first half of 2021 were among unvaccinated residents. 

“Unvaccinated Coloradans are still at very high risk,” he said.

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