About the State Land Board

The Colorado State Land Board owns, stewards, and leases four million acres of trust land in order to earn money for Colorado public schools. We are guided by our 2026 Strategic Plan's four bold goals. Read the plan

$2+ billion for Colorado public schools 

The majority of revenue is distributed to the Colorado Department of Education's Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) program. Land Board revenue also supports the Colorado Department of Education's annual operating budget via the School Finance Act. 

BEST

Established in 2008, BEST provides an annual amount of funding in the form of competitive grants to school districts. BEST funds can be used for the construction of new schools as well as general construction and renovation of existing school facility systems and structures.

We are proud to be the primary funding source for BEST. BEST has:

  • Awarded 354 grants in 141 school districts.
  • Funded $2.1 billion in projects from $4.6 billion in requests.
  • Improved health, safety, and security in 524 schools.
  • Improved the learning environment for nearly 225,000 students. 
  • Created and supported roughly 37,000 jobs (reported in December 2018 by the Colorado Department of Local Affairs).

 

   Learn more about BEST         Learn more about the School Finance Act

Watch our 90-second video to see why we're proud that trust land leases earn money for schools:

 

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Our history

In 1876, the Colorado Constitution created the Colorado State Board of Land Commissioners (State Land Board), which manages lands that the Federal Government granted to Colorado in public trust. 

We are the second-largest landowner in Colorado, with 2.8 million surface acres and 4.0 million mineral estate acres.  A dual mission guides State Land Board management of these assets: to produce reasonable and consistent income over time, and to provide sound stewardship of the state trust assets. Our lands are held in eight public land trusts, which benefit public schools and public institutions. 

State Land Board revenue entirely funds its operations, we receive $0 tax dollars. 

The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy provides resources about the history of trust land in America. Excepted from the Lincoln Institute:

"State trust lands are a phenomenon that dates back to the Northwest Ordinance of 1785. With this ordinance, the U.S. Congress established a policy of granting land to states when they entered the Union as an asset to generate funding to support the public education system, a fundamental state responsibility. Starting with Ohio in 1785 and ending with Arizona and New Mexico in 1910, each new state received a set of federal lands that, under federal enabling legislation and the corresponding state constitution, were to be held in trust for the benefit of the public schools. The trust mandates established by the U.S. Congress and the states are clear: to generate revenue to support the public schools and other institutions. In some cases there are other minor institutional beneficiaries as well, but the public schools (K–12) are by far the largest beneficiary throughout the state trust land system. That singularity of purpose continues today and distinguishes state trust lands and the state programs that administer them from other types of public lands."  

For more than 140 years, we have leased trust land in order to earn money for school kids. Lessees must comply with our strict land stewardship guidelines.

  • Agriculture                  
  • Commercial real estate
  • Ecosytem services       
  • Mining
  • Oil and gas
  • Recreation
  • Renewable energy
  • Rights-of-way
  • Tower sites
  • Water
  • And more!

John Adams, second US President, is credited with originating the concept of using trust land to provide funding/resources for public schools in America. 

john adams
"The Whole People must take upon themselvs the Education of the Whole People and must be willing to bear the expences of it. There should not be a district of one Mile Square without a school in it, not founded by a Charitable individual but maintained at the expence of the People themselvs they must be taught to reverence themselvs instead of adoreing their servants their Generals Admirals Bishops and Statesmen.” - John Adams in a letter he sent to Bristish reformer John Jebb