weed scholarships

$2M-plus in marijuana scholarships to be given to Pueblo students

Pueblo County announced Friday that the marijuana excise tax scholarship program will award an estimated $2.3 million in scholarships to local students next month.

County officials said this is the largest disbursement in Pueblo County history. Scholarships will be used for the upcoming fall and spring semesters.

Janelle Quick, director of the Pueblo Hispanic Education Foundation, said Friday that Pueblo is one of only two counties in Colorado that allocates excise tax for marijuana.

“It’s exciting to be kind of on the forefront for giving away scholarship dollars. Every year it’s increased in the amount” Quick said.

There were 729 applicants who qualified for scholarships this year and Quick says most of them will be awarded. The applications process began in January and ended in April.

“We are trying to give quality and quantity at the same time,” Quick said.

Quick said the scholarships range anywhere from $1,200 to $2,000 depending on the student’s grade point average and the overall scoring of the students based on essays, community service and their estimated financial contribution through their FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) score, Quick said.

The scholarship is for students who graduated from any high school in Pueblo County. Students can apply to anywhere in the country as long as it’s an accredited college or university.

The county will use an in-house disbursement method to award students. In addition, the county will pay out $676,800 to the Pueblo Hispanic Education Foundation, which administers its portion of the scholarship fund. PHEF will hand out its scholarships around July, while the county will do its portion over the next few months.

Quick said the foundation also leveraged Pueblo County Scholarship dollars to access grants from the Colorado Department of Higher Education – Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative.

State grants added $262,263 to the scholarship fund for local students.

A ballot issue passed in 2015 by Pueblo County voters stipulates that the first 50 percent of marijuana excise tax dollars are required to go toward scholarships. The second half can be used for capital infrastructure projects.

“This is tremendously impactful for local students who receive this award,” said Pueblo County Commissioner Garrison Ortiz.

Ortiz said the goal always was to increase the amount of the scholarships.

Dru Spinuzzi, vice-president of the foundation, said the goal is to give as many qualified students money as possible through the scholarship program.

She said when the program first started, students were getting $250.

Spinuzzi said this year the program received the highest amount of applicants.

“We have worked really hard to fine-tune the scholarships,” she said.

Pueblo County announced Friday that the marijuana excise tax scholarship program will award an estimated $2.3 million…