Marijuana tax funds $420k worth of scholarships for Pueblo County

PUEBLO COUNTY, Colo. — $420,000 is being given to more than 200 high school graduates as part of the world’s first marijuana tax-funded scholarship.

In 2015, ballot initiative 1B passed, funding the scholarship program though marijuana tax revenue in Pueblo County.

All 210 recipients received an email Thursday from the Pueblo Hispanic Education Foundation, a nonprofit appointed to administer the scholarship by the Pueblo Board of County Commissioners.

“This is one of the first years we’ve been able to award so many scholarships to so many families and students,” said executive director Beverly Duran.

Duran said each of the recipients will be getting $2,000 for the 2017-18 school year.

“This opportunity allowed us to reach families that may not have otherwise had the opportunity to get a scholarship, because we didn’t set a GPA requirement or a financial-need requirement,” said Duran.

The graduating seniors who received the scholarships did have to meet other requirements, like living in Pueblo County and attending a local university or college.

According to Duran, students who received funds from last year’s pilot program were picked on a merit basis this year and given more money.

“We have 19 students that are in their second year of college and they’re also getting $2,000 each and they are included in the 210 students we’re awarding,” said Duran.

On June 20, the students will be receiving an official certificate in front of the Pueblo County Courthouse.

“The money that we’re receiving from the marijuana excise tax is really going to make an impact on not only our students and their families, but our community and the affordability of going to school,” said Duran.

While 50 percent of marijuana tax revenue goes toward scholarship funds, the rest is allocated to community enhancement projects.

The scholarship fund was made possible through both marijuana revenue and $50,000 of grant-matching by the Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative.

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