CCHN’s “Grow Our Own: Partnership for Equity in Health Careers” Receives Grant Funding

“Grow Our Own” Partnership Wins SyncUp Colorado Workforce Design Challenge, Will Help More  Young Coloradans Pursue Meaningful Careers

DENVER, Colo., Oct. 25, 2021— ZOMALAB, in partnership with the Colorado Governor’s Office, Colorado Succeeds, Colorado Thrives, SemperVirens, Skillful a Markle initiative, and Strada Education Network today announced Colorado Community Health Network’s “Grow Our Own: Partnership for Equity in Health Careers” as one of six winners of SyncUp Colorado, a $5 million prize pool centering on the challenge question: “How might we accelerate education-to-employment partnerships that support Coloradans ages 12-24 to make informed choices and obtain job relevant skills to build quality careers?”

The “Grow Our Own: Partnership for Equity in Health Careers,” led by CCHN, is a solution for high school and young adult learners to build awareness of health careers opportunities, and provide an accessible pathway for entry and advancement to meaningful and financially sustainable careers. The project will have a specific focus on Medical Assisting as a first step. This solution is supported through formal partnerships with the National Institute for Medical Assistant Advancement (NIMAA), Colorado Safety Net Collaborative (CSNC), Doctors Care, Mission Medical Center, Mountain Family Community Health Centers, and River Valley Family Health Centers. The “Grow Our Own” partnership was awarded $350,000.

SyncUp Colorado received more than 130 applications across 40 high-growth industries representing more than 200 Colorado-based organizations with early- and mid-stage partnership solutions. Applicants had opportunities to win between $350,000 and $2 million per partnership application. Judges who determined the winning solutions were Luella Chavez D’Angelo, Chief Executive Officer of Colorado Inclusive Economy; Ryan Craig, Co-founder and Managing Director of University Ventures; David Dragoo, Founder of Mayfly Outdoors; Alison Griffin, Senior Vice President of Whiteboard Advisors; Kristen Hamilton, Senior Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at Guild Education; Rebecca Holmes, President and CEO of Colorado Education Initiative, and Dwight Jones, Senior Deputy Superintendent of Equity and Engagement at Denver Public Schools. The “Grow Our Own” partnership received unanimous support from the judges.

The state’s job growth average is nearly double the national average. However, according to the 2020 Colorado Talent Pipeline Report, while 88% of new jobs in the state require a postsecondary degree, only 58% of Coloradans have a certificate, associate’s, bachelor’s, and/or professional degree. Of those earning bachelor’s degrees, two-thirds graduate with significant debt. Additionally, Colorado is behind the national average in high school graduation with 82% of Colorado’s high school students graduating in four years, compared to a national average of 88%. The resulting skills gap limits opportunities for individuals and families as well as businesses. In fact, in a recent statewide survey conducted by Colorado Succeeds, 86% of Colorado’s employers said the skills gap is a threat to their businesses.

“Grow Our Own” was among a total of six winning partnerships that collectively bring modern apprenticeships and hybrid college approaches to serve broad geographies and beneficiaries statewide and represent solutions across fast growing industries in Colorado including health care and construction.

“Our hope was to inspire and accelerate innovative partnerships across the state to support the future economic and career success of young Coloradans. In addition to the outstanding winners, we were so impressed and inspired by the community of partnerships that applied and the caliber of their solutions that we want to support the other applicants and finalists in connecting with additional funding opportunities and resources to bring their solutions to fruition,” said Ben Walton, co-founder of ZOMALAB.

SyncUp Colorado will host a demo day for the remaining 21 finalists to pitch their solutions to prospective funders. Additionally, ZOMALAB funded a SyncUp Fellow at Colorado Succeeds dedicated to helping applicants who were not finalists continue to develop and implement solutions to build a more coordinated system and create more opportunities for young Coloradans to build meaningful careers. SyncUp Colorado and ZOMALAB will continue work with applicants, finalists, winners and key stakeholders throughout the state to explore long-term solutions for sustaining collaboration across the education-to-employment system which will include future design challenges.

The two other SyncUp awardees for early-stage seed solutions are the EPIC Center Featuring Tine Homes and the Linked Education: Providing a Continuum of Experiences in Agricultural Industries and the Food System. The three awardees for mid-state scale solutions are the Colorado Health Careers Collaborative, the Unleashing Scale in CareerWise Modern Youth Apprenticeship, and the Eagle County Collaborative for Career Pathways.

Go here to read more about the SyncUp Colorado Workforce Design Challenge, the winners, and the finalists.

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To interview a member of CCHN’s staff about this project, please contact Maureen Maxwell at cell (303)913-9078 or by email.

The Colorado Community Health Network (CCHN) is the unified voice for Colorado’s 20 Community Health Centers (CHCs) and their patients. CHCs provide a health care home for more than 847,000 of their community members –one in seven people in Colorado – from 63 of the state’s 64 counties. Without CHCs, hundreds of thousands of Colorado’s low-income families and individuals would have no regular source of health care. CCHN’s mission is to increase access to high quality health care for people in need in Colorado. For more information about CCHN, please visit

 To learn more about careers at Community Health Centers, please visit Mission Driven Careers.

ZOMALAB was founded by Ben and Lucy Ana Walton to catalyze systemic, scalable solutions to key issues facing their home regions of Colorado and Chile. ZOMALAB focuses on advancing the areas of early childhood development, workforce, community economic development, and water and energy to help support resilient, thriving communities that will endure for future generations.

About Colorado Succeeds
Colorado Succeeds is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that brings business leaders across the state together to ensure all of Colorado’s children are educated to their greatest potential and all Colorado’s businesses have the innovative and homegrown talent needed to thrive.

About Colorado Thrives
Colorado Thrives exists to advance Colorado as an inspiring and inclusive community known globally for innovation, collaboration, and overall well-being. Colorado Thrives is led by a group of 14 current and former Chief Executives from some of Colorado’s largest companies who believe corporate citizens are an important part of ensuring a better future for all and who have made a commitment to collectively leverage our voices, platforms, talent and resources to help Colorado succeed for the long term.

About SemperVirens
SemperVirens is an early stage venture capital fund investing in technology transforming healthcare, work, and financial wellness. The fund has a portfolio of more than thirty industry-defining technology companies, as well as an ecosystem of more than 100,000 HR executives. SemperVirens is committed to making meaningful connections amongst all stakeholders on a mission to build a better future of work.

About Skillful
Skillful, a non-profit initiative of the Markle Foundation, is dedicated to enabling all Americans – particularly those without a four-year college degree – to secure good jobs in a changing economy. In partnership with Microsoft and others, Skillful is developing skills-based training and employment practices in collaboration with state governments, local employers, educators and workforce development organizations. Skillful’s work also informs, and is shared through, Markle’s Rework America Alliance which aims to advance opportunities for unemployed and low wage workers to move into good jobs, particularly those that have been disproportionately affected by the current economic crisis.

About Strada Education Network
Strada Education Network is a new kind of nonprofit social impact organization, dedicated to increasing individuals’ economic mobility through purposeful connections between education and employment. Our approach combines innovative research, thought leadership, strategic philanthropy and investments, and support for individuals through student coaching, work-based learning, career exploration, and helping adults learn new skills throughout their careers. Together, we work to better serve the millions of Americans seeking to complete postsecondary education and training, gain clear value from those experiences, and build meaningful careers.  Learn more at