Building a New Workforce Platform


This investment in a collaborative partnership with state and local government employers and community-based service providers expanded the Community College of Denver’s Center for Workforce Initiatives and established it as WORKNOW, metro Denver’s first collective impact workforce platform. Through WORKNOW, low-income families can access construction industry training, resources and job supports that empower them to participate in local economic development projects.

We are on the right track—and we can do even better. The construction industry provides critical career pathways to the middle class, and many positions provide family-sustaining wages and health benefits.” — Tracey Stewart, Family Economic Security Investment Director, Gary Community Investments

Purpose of Funding

Denver’s rapid growth has impacted many communities through rising housing costs and displacement. WORKNOW supports Colorado’s intention to use infrastructure projects, like the Colorado Department of Transportation’s Central 70 expansion, to provide parents with pathways to middle-class wages through local hire requirements. Our investment ensures that WORKNOW takes a two-generation approach to mitigating employment barriers for its participants, including creating a funding stream for a network of child care centers along the Central 70 corridor. By offering supportive services like child care, we can help ensure the success of the parents who want to do more for themselves and their families.

Amount Funded


Funding Period

2017 - 2019

Outcome Area

Family Economic Security

Impact & Results

Sharing in Denver's Economic Expansion

Being born into poverty can severely restrict a child’s opportunities in life. But boosting families’ income and helping them build assets improves children’s short- and long-term education, health and economic outcomes. Programs like WORKNOW, which promote job training and entrepreneurship, lead to economic advancement for families, providing them with the resources to stay in their homes, support their children and share in the benefits of Denver’s economic expansion. Over the past year, WORKNOW has made the following impact on families and the local workforce ecosystem.


Families experienced a 20 percent gain toward economic self-sufficiency


Average hourly wage for WORKNOW participants, which is an increase from $10.43/hour


Boost in new revenue for the local economy

Story of Change

A step toward college

Eighteen-year-old Ivan Quiroz, who lives in the Swansea neighborhood with his two brothers, learned about the WORKNOW program through a community hiring fair hosted in November 2018. After a few weeks of training, he received a hard hat from Sturgeon Electric Company, along with full-time employment building traffic signal housing at Sturgeon’s Central 70 headquarters, which is located within walking distance from his house. Because of WORKNOW, Ivan has a better-paying job, and he plans to put the money he earns toward achieving his next career goal: attending college. Learn how WORKNOW has impacted workers like Ivan, local families and the workforce ecosystem:

Download the First-Year Impact Brief

Together, each partner organization is expanding support for the communities we serve, and for the workforce needs of Colorado’s thriving construction industry. It’s exciting to work with partners willing to explore what we can do differently to deepen access to high-wage jobs, foster family self-sufficiency, and create long-term career paths.

– Katrina Wert, Director, Center for Workforce Initiatives at the Community College of Denver

CDOT has long recognized the connection between large construction projects and economic opportunity. Our partnership with WORKNOW has made it possible for CDOT to help improve lives by connecting individuals and communities to high-wage construction jobs and training programs. The opportunities to continue making these connections across Colorado are enormous, and we are fortunate to have WORKNOW as a partner.

– Josh Laipply, Chief Engineer, Colorado Department of Transportation

We want to support the positive impact of what major projects, like Central 70, can bring not only to the infrastructure users, but to the community we serve together with the city and the state of Colorado. After 30 years in the public and private partnership arena, worldwide, I’ve seen with my own eyes many positive changes happening when both sectors get together around a major purpose like this.

– Paulo Andre, CEO, Kiewit Meridian Partners

Denver's growth has created an unprecedented amount of construction jobs. As our economy grows, it is important to ensure residents benefit from this prosperity, however, finding and recruiting talent has proven to be challenging. During its first year, WORKNOW has made a difference for many individuals, while helping construction firms with the challenges of talent recruitment.

– Deborah Cameron, Chief Business Development Officer, City & County of Denver Office of Economic Development

WORKNOW has opened doors for me. I was a stay-at-home mother for six years and needed to find a career. I was worried about being out of the workforce for so long. But WORKNOW and its partners helped to ensure my success by providing help with transportation, childcare and equipment. I am excited to say I am now a working full-time HVAC apprentice.

– Chloe Lomax, WORKNOW Member

WORKNOW is a perfect blend of providing practical services, while also addressing systematic change in the nonprofit and business sectors. It’s such an effective workforce readiness program that Focus Points chose to grow the program, applying the concept both with internal hires and other sector business partners.

– Jules Kelty, Executive Director, Focus Points Family Resource Center

WORKNOW brings together the best workforce leaders and organizations that are lifting up Denver neighborhoods while collaborating with business. The need to place hundreds of people in good jobs is pushing community leaders, business and policy makers to address issues of equity in the workplace; and WorkLife is proud to be part of this initiative, which is addressing the cradle-to-career continuum.

– Liddy Romero, Founder & Executive Director, WorkLife Partnership