In Colorado, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Employment and Training (E&T) program, known as Employment First (EF), promotes long-term self-sufficiency and independence by preparing SNAP recipients for meaningful employment through work-related education and training activities. The EF program is administered in 21 Colorado counties at local county human/social services offices and through organizations around the state, known as Third-Party Partners.
Please note: If you're looking for the Colorado Office of Employment First, a collaboration of the University of Colorado's JFK Partners and the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, you can find it here.
- How to access Employment First services
If your county is highlighted blue on the map below, contact your county’s human services department to learn more about Employment First and to access services. If your county isn't highlighted blue, click here for a list of Third-Party Partners and the counties they serve.
To be eligible for the Employment First program, you must be receiving SNAP benefits. There are several ways to apply for SNAP:
- Apply online using the Colorado PEAK website.
- Apply with your smartphone by downloading the MyCOBenefits app, which is available in the Apple and Android app stores. (Click here for a guide.)
- Print the application of your choice below, fill it out and return it by mail, fax or in person to your county human services office.
Learn more about SNAP here.
Employment First services
Employment First offers work-based learning activities such as education, employment and training services. When appropriate, some of these services may be combined for you to meet your monthly work requirement. The following services may be offered in your county:
- Supportive services during your job search and after you find a job
- GED preparation and testing
- Pre-GED basic skills education
- If you’re enrolled in school or in a training program and working towards a degree or certificate
- Basic literacy education such as reading and writing
- English language learning classes
- Training related to a specific occupation such as, but are not limited to, welding, word processing, auto mechanics, truck driving, and data entry
- Classes that may include, but are not limited to, improving writing, reading, math, communication skills, and customer service training
- Self-employment training
- Actual work experiences to build job skills while you work with an employer or an apprenticeship program
- Interview skills and resume assistance
Although supportive services may vary by county, every county provides broad assistance to eligible SNAP recipients to help them establish economic security, enhance their quality of life, and promote employment goals. There are two ways to request supportive services:
- Make a request online using the Colorado PEAK website. Click here for a guide to managing your account. PEAK will need the following information from you: household member (dropdown), category (dropdown), amount requested, and to describe your situation.
- Make a request through the MyCOBenefits app, which is available in the Apple and Android app stores. (Click here for a guide.) The following information will be requested from you: the supportive services category (drop-down), the amount you are requesting, and a brief description of your situation.
To find out more about allowable supportive services, contact your county human services department.
Colorado Workfare Program
In Colorado, the Section 20 Optional Workfare Program of the Food and Nutrition Act of 2018 is called the Colorado Workfare Program.
Employment First counties partner with workfare sites across the state to provide clients an opportunity to obtain work experience and enhance their job skills.
If you are interested in becoming a workfare site, please contact your county human services department to obtain additional information.
Rules and Regulations
- Did You Know: Employment and Training Opportunities Final Rule: Case Management
- FNS Final Rule
- Agriculture Improvement Act 2018
- SNAP E&T Final Rule Q&A
- Did You Know: FNS Final Rule - Job Retention Services
- Employment First partners
EF program forms
- Follow-up appointment letter
- Workfare timesheet and evaluation
- EF- 211 client agreement and guidelines
- EF Comprehensive Assessment
- Transferable Skills form
- Employment First flyer
- EF Script
- Recruitment Flyer 1
- Recruitment Flyer 2
- Recruitment Flyer 3
- Third-Party Partners
What is an Employment First Third-Party Partner? Colleges, community-based organizations, and a variety of other organizations that provide employment and training services to SNAP recipients may be eligible to become a Third-Party Partners. Third-Party Partners may be reimbursed up to 50% of any non-federal funds they spend down to provide employment and training services to SNAP recipients.
Please find a list of current Third-Party Partners here.Learn about becoming a Third-Party Partner through these helpful documents:
If you are interested in applying to become a Third-Party Partner, please do the following:
- Open the Colorado VSS Vendor Registration at https://vss.state.co.us, which takes you to the Colorado VSS Home screen.
- Click on the icon that states “Click here for VSS system,” which is located in the middle of the screen on the right-hand side of the screen.
- At this point, you can either log in, register, or click on the “Public Access” button to search for the RFA.
- Use the Keyword Search box to enter "Colorado Employment First Third Party Partner."
- Once you locate the RFP, click on the Details button to open the solicitation. All of the materials can be found within the Attachments tab.
To learn more about Employment First, click on these links:
- CDHS Employment and Benefits Division org chart
- Employment First county contacts
- FFY23 SNAP E&T State Plan
- FFY23 Workfare Program State Plan
- Employment First CFMS Codes for FFY22
- 2022 Employment and Benefits Division communication schedule
- FFY2023 EF Program Operator Handbook
- USDA Nondiscrimination Statement
Read the USDA Nondiscrimination Statement.