The Colorado Challenge Accelerator Program is a unique team building accelerator focused on establishing a plan of work and a proposal that engages public, private, and non-profit partners to address a significant community challenge over the course of twelve months. The Colorado Challenge works to transform the community’s challenge into an opportunity, to establish a proposal, financing approach, and team of community partners ready to implement their plan of action.

The program includes five phases of planning and development that will help our Colorado communities establish a plan for community-wide initiatives to foster sustainable community and economic development. This involves public, private, and non-profit partners moving forward to establish their community as a business-friendly destination for entrepreneurs and community initiatives. The phases include:

  • COMMUNITY SELECTION: Working with the community to outline the problem statement, issues area, ideal outcomes, and resource assessment.
  • TEAM BUILDING: Background material and stakeholder analysis, needs assessment, skills inventory, and profile development.
  • CHALLENGE STUDIO:Intensive two-day workshop designed to transform unique and difficult challenges and problems into promising plans with implementation strategies. Community leadership will work side-by-side with leading industry experts and local peer networks to craft action-oriented problem-solving plans that result in improved futures for all. 
  • FINANCING PITCH: Developing and presenting the proposal to a funders network for feedback and guidance.In the process, the participating communities are connected with supporting resources and networks to help them get the job done.
  • CHALLENGE COMMUNITY OPEN HOUSE: Challenge Communities from past years are invited to share progress, access further support and resources, and network with peer communities around their challenge. Coaching and referrals through the project financing and implementation phases. 


"It was my first time and by participating in the Center Studio Workshop, I saw the immense amount of expertise all of the attendees brought to the table to learn and glean from. It was invaluable. I also loved being able to learn about local projects and gain lessons learned for my part of the state." – Jeff Owsley, Community Relations – San Luis Valley, Colorado Housing and Finance Authority

"We had a challenge studio at the In the Games conference and for the first time collaborated with our neighboring communities of Silverton and Ouray. You can try to do a lot over phone calls and emails, but there is nothing like working on a project in one room together. The addition of conference attendees from across the state helped to provide insight into our challenges and ways to refine our project with an outside lens. As a result, our three communities are working together to pursue grants at a state and national level for our region."  -Kiki Hooten, Local First La Plata 



Below are our partners who are indispensable to ensuring the Colorado Challenge Program's success. A special thanks to Randy Harrison and the graduate students of CU Denver's School of Public Affairs for their work on the Challenge Program Reports. 

To complete the online application, we will request a letter of interest. Please have those documents prepared for easy upload! See samples of each document below:

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