Op-ed by Rep. Angela Williams

Nine years ago, Denver voters made a strategic investment in expanding access to preschool because we understand the tie between early childhood education, readiness for grade school, and success in the classroom.

This November, Denver has a similar opportunity.  By voting ‘Yes’ on Referendum 2A, we will expand access to college education for Denver residents. We know that achieving an education beyond high school—a technical degree, an associate’s or bachelor’s degree—is the key to economic opportunity.  Unfortunately, far too many young people do not get a fair shot to attend college because of financial obstacles.  

There is a growing crisis in the affordability of college here in Colorado. In just the last five years, the costs of attending college in Colorado have increased dramatically.  Voting ‘Yes’ on 2A will help thousands of qualified, smart and talented Denver students overcome cost barriers to attend college. 2A is also designed to provide the support services that students need to keep them on track to graduate.

This is a groundbreaking proposal, the first of its kind in the US.  Denver can lead the way to supporting our Denver students who put in the time and work to earn college admission, particularly those who come from a low-income background or are the first in their family to attend college.
Denver’s 21st century economy is dependent on an educated community because technology is changing the needs of our workforce. In just five years, three out of four jobs in Denver will require a post-secondary certificate or degree. Without an education beyond high school, Denver residents will largely be left out from the majority of jobs that are being created in Denver.

In the big picture, expanding access to college is a benefit to Denver’s long-term economy. Study after study shows that people with postsecondary educations have greater job opportunities, earn higher wages, contribute more in taxes, and are less dependent on expensive public services. A college degree can change the life of one person, as well as entire families.

Vote ‘Yes’ on 2A as a smart investment in our young people and our economy by creating opportunity. In Denver’s 21st century economy, college does matter—and our residents, neighborhoods and entire city benefit from making that investment.

Editor’s note: To learn more about ‘Yes’ on 2A, visit www.DenverCollege Matters.com.