Impact Report: Outcomes and Lessons Learned from the Lives Empowered Initiative

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March 30, 2022 - In 2018, the CWDC became the first state agency to receive a $4.1M grant from Walmart to develop a scalable, industry-led model for upskilling the frontline workforce through an initiative called Lives Empowered. As the initiative comes to a close this April, the CWDC contracted with Pinnacle Change to evaluate Lives Empowered to identify best practices throughout this program. 

The resulting evaluation, Lives Empowered Impact Report, provides an overview of the Lives Empowered initiative, the initiative’s effectiveness in upskilling frontline workers, and successes and opportunities for improvement identified throughout the evaluation process. The evaluation can be used by CWDC members and Lives Empowered stakeholders to more fully understand the program’s execution and outcomes as well as to inform policy, programs, and practice at the state and local level to accelerate the upskilling of frontline workers in Colorado.

The report should provide the reader an appreciation of the initiative from a variety of perspectives and levels, including:

  • Progress and achievements for the Lives Empowered initiative.
  • Program and resource infrastructure development – both in place and in progress.
  • Organizational engagement and goals, related to community, stakeholders, and business.
  • Section I of this report provides a high-level view and basic understanding of the grant and initiative, along with its execution and results. The reader is also encouraged to read and review Section II of this evaluation impact report for a fuller understanding.

The overall goals of Lives Empowered included upskilling incumbent retail workers through the expansion of existing programming and the addition of new resources, and engaging retail businesses statewide through retail sector partnership connection and participation in convenings. Career pathways would be defined and created, and upskilling programs and resources would be acquired and provided by the CWDC for use by sector partnerships in developing programs that address the collective talent needs of retailers in a given region.

As a result of COVID-19 and the disruption to retail businesses, many of the approaches and related programming had to be adjusted to effectively reach frontline workers and support community upskilling initiatives. The impact report details these adjustments, why and how they were made, and their effectiveness in bolstering Colorado’s retail talent pipeline.

The impact report, in its evaluation and summary of the CWDC’s experiences in carrying out the Lives Empowered initiative and implementing alternative programming approaches, can serve not only as a comprehensive report for existing stakeholders, but as a guide for other agencies, organizations, and states who may consider pursuing similar initiatives. Access the report


Frontline service workers make up one in seven employees in the United States. With the onset of COVID-19, the critical necessity of these workers has been brought to the forefront. To support these individuals and the economy, the initiative will work to ensure equitable upskilling and retention strategies that build mobility are more widely spread.

Lives Empowered brings together retail businesses interested in working collaboratively to increase economic mobility for frontline workers across Colorado and contribute to a strong economy. Lives Empowered is made possible by a $4.1 million grant from Walmart to the Colorado Workforce Development Council.