Colorado Rural Academy for Tourism Mentor Program

The Colorado Rural Academy for Tourism (CRAFT) Mentor program provides 50 hours of free consulting and technical assistance for tourism-related entities and communities that want to advance a specific tourism-related goal or strategy.

The program provides up to 50 hours of in-person or virtual consulting with a mentor. Mentors are tourism experts with practical experience in:

  • tourism marketing
  • cultural tourism
  • culinary and agritourism
  • outdoor recreation
  • cycling tourism
  • sustainable tourism

Within 90 days after completion of a CRAFT Mentor program, you can apply for a $1,000 CRAFT Mentor Implementation Funding grant to advance one or more tourism strategies identified during the program.

In fall 2020, we awarded the CRAFT Recovery Mentor program to tourism partners across Colorado as a direct response to the impacts of COVID-19 containment and the 2020 wildfire season.

Overview

Type: Consulting/technical assistance

For: Tourism-related organizations and businesses

Amount: Up to $1,000 per application

Application deadline: Rolling

OEDIT division: Colorado Tourism Office

Tourism-related entities include:

  • industry associations
  • tour operators
  • farms and ranches
  • museums
  • hotels
  • restaurants
  • attractions
  • destination marketing organizations
  • chambers of commerce

Applicants should represent existing businesses or organizations involved in:

  • cultural tourism
  • culinary and agritourism
  • outdoor recreation
  • tourism marketing

Applicants are limited to one CRAFT Mentor per state fiscal year (July to June).

Applicants are not eligible if they failed to fulfill past Colorado Tourism Office grant award requirements in the last year. These requirements include project completion, submitting required reporting, proper use of grant funds, lack of acknowledgment, and changes to grant proposal without approval.

 This program is currently on hiatus. Please see the Colorado Recovery Assistance For Tourism program for information on the refinement of the CRAFT program to meet the crisis-recovery needs of destinations and industry associations.

A limited number of CRAFT Mentor program applications are accepted on a rolling basis throughout the year, meaning Colorado Tourism Office staff will review and award applications as we receive them.

Apply online through the OEDIT application portal. Log in or create a new account. New users are manually added to the portal for security reasons, so it may take several days to activate your account.

A representative from the Colorado Tourism Office will respond to your CRAFT Mentor program application within two weeks of your submission.

Application materials

Application questions
The questions below are only a reference and do not include all of the information needed in the application.

  • Describe the cultural tourism, culinary and agritourism, outdoor recreation, or tourism marketing business or destination you are requesting a CRAFT mentor for.
  • How many visitors do you receive annually?
  • What is your annual net profit?
  • What is your net profit goal?
  • What type of assistance are you seeking from a CRAFT mentor?
  • What specific goal do you want to accomplish with your CRAFT mentor?
  • What is your ideal timeframe for accomplishing this goal?

Supporting documents
You will need to provide:

This is a competitive program, and not all applicants receive a CRAFT Mentor program. The Colorado Tourism Office reviews applications and recommends awards based on application scores and available funds. The Colorado Tourism Office reviews applications on these criteria:

Merit (50%)
You will need to show:

  • alignment with CRAFT Mentor program goals
  • committed and strong project lead on behalf of the requesting organization
  • overall strength of the application request with clear logic and adequate detail

Impact (30%)
You will need to show the effect a CRAFT Mentor program will have in furthering tourism outcomes for the requesting organization and its partners.

Organizational Sustainability (10%)
You will need to demonstrate the quality of existing business plans and financial documents related to requesting organization. 

Reporting (10%)
You will need to show a willingness and ability to:

  • complete the evaluation requirements for the CRAFT Mentor program
  • work with the Colorado Tourism Office to develop a case study to share with legislators and industry partners

If your organization is awarded a CRAFT Mentor program, a representative from the Colorado Tourism Office will match you with your CRAFT Mentor and support development of a shared scope of work and timeline for your desired project.

The Colorado Rural Academy for Tourism (CRAFT) Mentor Implementation grants provide CRAFT Mentor program participants up to $1,000 to implement a tourism project. Organizations need to apply for this grant within 90 days of completing the CRAFT Mentor program. The project needs to be completed within six months of receiving grant funds.

Past grantees used these funds to:

  • design and print brochures
  • write marketing plans
  • create and place digital advertising
  • create and place social media
  • create content for a website refresh
  • create interpretative museum signage

You may not use this grant for:

  • staffing/salary costs
  • basic overhead needs
  • capital improvements, new construction, renovation, or restoration
  • professional training or scholarship
  • reimbursement of fees or expenses paid prior to application award
  • office supplies or items for resale

Apply online through the OEDIT application portal. Log in or create a new account. New users are manually added to the portal for security reasons, so it may take several days to activate your account.

Instructions for navigating the grant portal are available.

Your application needs to include a:

  • detailed project description
  • timeline for the project
  • budget outlining all anticipated expenses

Selection process

We will notify you about award status within one month of submitting your application. A panel of Colorado Tourism Office staff and a program facilitator reviews applications and recommends awards based on available funds.

Conditions of funding

As a condition of the receipt of a CRAFT Mentor Implementation Funding grant, you need to complete a baseline questionnaire and a mid-program evaluation. Within 30 days after the completion of your CRAFT Mentor Implementation Funding grant project, you need to submit a final report. Twelve to 18 months after you complete the CRAFT Mentor program, Colorado Tourism Office staff will follow up with you to gauge long-term outcomes in the destination.

Program Manager

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