A measure to use marijuana taxes to fund tutoring for Colorado kids will be on the statewide ballot this November. The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office announced this week it had validated more than 200,000 signatures submitted by supporters.

"Initiative 25 is a first-of-its-kind program to provide financial aid of $1,500 for tutoring for students across Colorado — with a priority given to kids from low-income families," a news release said.

"We’ve seen a substantial disparity in opportunities to access after-school and summer programs in Colorado for years based largely on kids’ race and their family income,” Mike Johnston, president and CEO of Denver-based philanthropy Gary Community Ventures, said in the release. “And new test scores show alarming evidence of major learning loss during the COVID-19 pandemic — particularly for students of color and those who receive free and reduced-price lunch. Initiative 25 is our chance to get our students back on track by providing additional educational support."

"Educators, employers, families, and Colorado voters understand — we have an opportunity to support the students who need this help the most with Initiative 25," education advocate Tony Lewis said in the release. "The educational future of our children has been upended by the pandemic and while the most marginalized children will likely have the most learning loss, this has impacted students in nearly every political, geographic, economic, and racial group in our State."

Initiative 25 would provide financial aid for families to choose from a menu of approved out-of-school learning providers, including tutoring, career and technical education-training programs, STEM opportunities, among others. The proposition establishes a new state entity to oversee the program, with priority for financial aid given to students from low-income families.

The LEAP program would be funded by a 5 percentage point sales-tax increase on recreational marijuana and by repurposing a portion of revenues derived from leases, rents and royalties paid for activities on state lands. 

"Kids spend 80% of their waking hours outside of school. When students supplement school with well-rounded learning opportunities outside of school, they thrive," Amy Anderson, executive director of RESCHOOL Colorado, said in the release. "Initiative 25 will expand access to enriching learning opportunities in literacy, technology, arts, the outdoors, and many more that play a crucial role in youth development."