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Colorado Thrives Announces First Initiative in Partnership with Techstars

Workforce Development Accelerator will engage 10 startups and 2 nonprofits annually to address workforce, education challenges

Colorado Thrives has partnered with Boulder-based Techstars, ZOMALAB and Strada Education Network to launch a Workforce Development Accelerator designed to address the challenges of the current labor market through innovative technologies, business models and solutions.

The accelerator will be run in partnership with ZOMALAB, an innovation-focused investment portfolio, and Strada Education Network, a nonprofit organization with expertise bridging education and employment for students across the United States. Together, Techstars, Colorado Thrives, ZOMALAB and Strada Education Network will bring founders from across the globe to Colorado for an intensive, mentorship-driven 13-week program each year. Participants will benefit from programming and mentorship to support rapid growth of their businesses, as well as access to each partners’ network. Unlike other Techstars accelerators, the program will engage two nonprofit organizations sponsored by grants from Colorado Thrives, to participate in the 3-month program to benefit from the accelerator. The nonprofits will receive the same programming and mentorship as the startups though they will not receive investment funding.

“The Covid-19 pandemic is magnifying the pace of change and too many people are at risk of being left behind,” said Mike Fries, CEO of Liberty Global. “One piece to the puzzle is bringing entrepreneurs and innovators to the table to solve some of the intractable problems facing workers and small businesses. Colorado Thrives is working to make an impact on economic and social mobility in the state of Colorado. We believe that in order to do so, we need to see innovation in both the for profit and nonprofit sectors in the form of scalable solutions to workforce development.”

This program is the first initiative supported by Colorado Thrives in alignment with the organization’s current focus on improving economic mobility through education and training. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), the coronavirus pandemic could result in nearly 200 million global job losses. Colorado Thrives and the accelerator partners believe an investment in innovative solutions now could positively impact our ability to recover over the long-term. Members of Colorado Thrives will support participants in the accelerator through mentorship and by providing insight into the workforce challenges their companies face every day.

“Technology is rapidly reshaping our global workforce and the skills required to engage in our modern world,” said Taylor McLemore, the accelerator’s managing director. “Building a path to improve how people work, do their best work and get back to work is critical. This accelerator is an opportunity to have significant and long-term impact. There is no greater challenge than how we as a global community get people back into the workforce in productive, meaningful jobs.”

Starting on May 4, the Techstars Workforce Development Accelerator will accept applications from for-profit, global startups developing products and/or services focused on the advancement of students and a skilled and relevant workforce, with applications to the U.S. market. Applications for nonprofits will open mid-summer. The accelerator aims to democratize access to high quality training, networks and jobs; enable individuals to make informed decisions about the professional pathways that best suit them; promote and increase awareness of non-degree pathways to employment; and support businesses in closing skill gaps and opportunity seekers in building professional networks. Startups and nonprofits interested in participating in this program are encouraged to learn more by visiting the program page or expressing interest here.

The Techstars Workforce Development Accelerator is currently set to take place in Denver starting November 2, 2020, culminating in a demo day on February 11, 2021. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, any considerations with respect to running the program in a virtual format will be evaluated this summer, dependent upon the impact and uncertainties at that time.


About Colorado Thrives

Colorado Thrives is a 501c3 supported by 13 current and former CEOs from some of Colorado’s largest companies. We exist to advance Colorado as an inspiring and inclusive community known globally for innovation, collaboration and overall well-being. We create impact by sourcing promising early stage ideas and initiatives proven to work, investing our social and financial capital, and catalyzing support from our companies, government, philanthropy and the broader community. Learn more at

About Techstars

Techstars is the global platform for investment and innovation. Techstars founders connect with other entrepreneurs, experts, mentors, alumni, investors, community leaders, and corporations to grow their companies. Techstars operates three divisions: Techstars Mentorship-Driven Accelerator Programs, Techstars Corporate Innovation Partnerships and Techstars Communities. Techstars accelerator portfolio includes more than 2,100 companies with a market cap of more than $26 Billion.


ZOMALAB was founded in 2016 by Ben and Lucy Ana Walton to catalyze bold and innovative solutions to issues facing their home regions of Colorado and Chile, with the goal of building resilient, thriving communities that will endure for generations to come. ZOMALAB leverages philanthropy to support systems level alignment as well as to pilot, incubate, and prove innovations across early childhood, workforce, and community economic development. ZOMALAB also leverages capital investments in market-based sustainable solutions advancing energy, water, and regional economic resiliency.

About Strada Education Network

Strada Education Network is a national social impact organization dedicated to improving lives by forging clearer and more purposeful pathways between education and employment. We engage partners across education, nonprofits, business, and government to focus relentlessly on students’ success throughout all phases of their working lives. Together, we address critical college and career challenges through strategic philanthropy, research and insights, and direct services provided by mission-aligned affiliates.

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