Colorado Change Leader Program

The Colorado Change Leader Program teaches cultural and community leaders how to handle change in organizations, communities, and their daily lives.

The program is made up of a(n):

  • institute
  • certification project
  • network of participants

The institute is an annual three-day course to prepare leaders for a certification project. If your certification project meets certain requirements, you may receive a $500 stipend to implement the project. The network provides participants a way to continue engagement with current and past participants of the program.

Since we began this model, evaluations suggest that people gained personal, organizational, and community skills. Our surveys show:

  • 95% of participants credit the institute with increased skill in leading change
  • 95% of participants gained skills they can apply to community projects
  • 90% of participants report enhanced leadership awareness and ability 


Type: Leadership program

For: Colorado residents interested in community building

Cost: $100 to $500 per person

Application deadline: Rolling

OEDIT division: Colorado Creative Industries

Change Leader Institute

The institute accepts 12 participants for a three-day course every year. The course takes a learn-by-doing approach with reflective listening and questioning. The program:

  • develops leadership skills
  • supports a statewide mentoring network
  • reduces geographic isolation
  • helps participants change their communities

We keep class sizes small to allow active learning and personal connection. When reviewing applications, we consider participant and organizational diversity, equity, inclusion, and geographic diversity.

Change Leader Certification Project

Change Leader Certification Projects are creative solutions to social and community needs. After you take part in the institute, you can submit a Certification Project proposal. If your proposal is accepted, Colorado Creative Industries (CCI) will give a stipend of up to $500 to complete your project.

You will need to plan a project that responds to your community’s needs. Each project is different, and we encourage Change Leaders to work together on projects. Past project examples include:

  • supporting local civic engagement using arts as a medium
  • implementing a creative activity using the Change Leader network as a collective volunteer pool of collaborative partners
  • illustrating the impact of the arts and artists in meeting social and community needs through new targeted activities
  • increasing connections among diverse groups in their respective communities
  • raising awareness of and creating a stronger sense of unity in the Change Leader network and the creative sector through media and other public relations

After you complete your project, you will be officially certified at the Colorado Creative Industries Summit.

Change Leader Network

An important part of the Change Leader program is continued engagement with the statewide network of participants. Change Leaders are resources and mentors to each other in the sometimes isolated work of creating lasting change in communities.

We hold statewide meetings of Change Leaders each year in conjunction with the Colorado Creative Industries Summit to continue networking and educational opportunities. The meeting includes presentations of new Change Leader Certification Projects.

Throughout the year, we engage Change Leaders through network communications, regional gatherings and other opportunities for learning and connection. We encourage Change Leaders to be active in the network and help in creating engagement around issues, challenges, and opportunities.

Change Leaders are a diverse group and can be anyone working creatively to improve his or her community. They represent rural, urban, suburban, and mountain areas, communities and organizations of all sizes, businesses, and creatives.

To apply for the Change Leader Program, you need to:

  • be a Colorado resident
  • be at least 18 years old
  • work or volunteer as one or more of these: individual visual or performing artist or designer, civic leader, executive director, professor, government employee, business owner, representative of creative enterprises or a board member, or an administrator or volunteer of a cultural or creative nonprofit

If you are selected for a class:

  • you need to participate fully in the three-day institute agenda
  • you are responsible for your transportation to the site
  • you or your organization need to pay a program fee based on a sliding scale. Occasionally, scholarships are available; contact Colorado Creative Industries for more information.

While Colorado Creative Industries funding covers a significant part the cost, the participant fee is an important expression of your commitment. The fee covers materials, lodging, and meals. Fees are based on the annual revenue or operational budget of your organization or creative enterprise.

If the annual revenue of your organization or creative enterprise is: Your participant fee is:
$25,000 and under $100
$25,001 to $150,000 $250
$150,001 and above $500

You can apply for this program year-round. We maintain waiting lists, so accepted applicants will be eligible to attend the following Institutes for up to two years following your application’s submission. The Change Leader program application operates on a rolling deadline, meaning we will review applications as we receive them.

You need to submit your own application as an individual, even if any organization is supporting your application financially or otherwise.

Submit all application materials through the Colorado Creative Industries Grant portal. Log in to your account or create a new account. If you're having trouble navigating the grant portal, review the Navigating the CCI Grant Portal Guide. If you need additional support, email Colorado Creative Industries staff.

All users are required to log into the portal and complete the online application. All support materials are uploaded into the online system. No hard copies or emailed copies of the application or support materials will be accepted. We recommend that applicants register in the portal and review the online grant system with plenty of time before the deadline to allow staff proper time to assist with any questions or issues.

2021 Change Leader Institute dates have not yet been established. Please sign up for the Colorado Creative Industries newsletter to stay updated on this program.

Application materials

The online application includes these questions:

  • What is your professional affiliation?
  • Are you paid staff/volunteer/board member or other? Explain.
  • The number of years in position? 
  • Summarize your experience and education in your field. 
  • Why do you want to participate in the Change Leader Institute? 
  • What is your age?
  • With what ethnicity do you most identify? 
  • With which gender do you most identify? 
  • Provide a link to one of your social media pages.

You will need to upload:

  • your resume or biographical statement
  • a photo of yourself (headshot preferred)

Staff and program managers review applications. Because we limit each class to 12 participants, we maintain a waiting list. Every year, we first contact people on the waiting list. You can be on the waiting list until a spot is available or for up to two years from the date you submitted your application.

If your contact information changes, be sure to update it in the Colorado Creative Industries Grant portal.

We select Change Leader participants whose applications represent:

  • passion and commitment to community engagement and the arts
  • a variety of arts and cultural leadership experience
  • geographic, ethnic, and cultural diversity
  • age and gender diversity
  • community vitality through the arts and the creative sector

Success Stories

“Art is often a solo enterprise, but it can also play a bigger role in communication and community building. Change Leaders has been a positive, practical influence and inspiration for me. Everyone who has anything to do with art should be part of this. Keep up the good work!”
– Craig Hibberd, Fort Collins 

“The Colorado Change Leader Institute helped me better understand the strengths and weaknesses in my community work, and gave me the tools to be effective in achieving my heart’s vision. The beauty of this training is I am still learning from it three years later.”
– Mary Hockenbery, Hotchkiss 

“The institute didn’t just help me refocus and gain a new perspective on what community leadership really means, it reminded me how to connect with others through authentic dialogue.”
– Becca Bay, Timnath 

Program Manager

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