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Rural Collaboration & Career-Connected Learning Expand to 50+ Districts


Last updated 8/16/2022 at 3:08pm | View PDF

Homegrown Talent Initiative Growing with Rural Coaction

New work is underway in rural Colorado to expand career-connected learning for every student as a meaningful part of the high school experience. This work is set to grow dramatically within the Pikes Peak region thanks to philanthropic and state investment, including in Cañon City, Fremont, and Cotopaxi school districts through the Fremont Multi-District Initiative, and in Big Sandy, Calhan, Edison, Ellicott, Hanover, Miami Yoder, and Peyton school districts, with Pikes Peak BOCES.

Homegrown Talent Initiative (HTI) works alongside schools, businesses, and local communities across rural Colorado to generate career-connected learning for students, encourage collaboration, and economic growth. In 2019, eight communities started this work, focused on bringing education and economic development together in a local “educonomy” that is grounded in community aspiration and vision. Now, more than 50 districts will be co-creating and co-designing career exploration and community partnerships to best fit their local contexts.

“Homegrown Talent Initiative has set the standard for career-connected learning and community partnership in rural Colorado,” said Denille LePlatt, Executive Director, Southcentral BOCES. “Across our communities in south central Colorado, whether Trinidad or Huerfano, we know we need to bring communities together to build a brighter future. We are thrilled to join this network and ensure we’re offering opportunities that students are interested in, are relevant to our community, and meet the goals of our local economy.”

This expansion is made possible through the Colorado Department of Education’s Rural Coaction grant and investment from other funders. Community design teams made up of superintendents, business leaders, educators, students, and community members will come together to build unique plans to provide real-world experiences and skill development for their students, based on the strengths and needs of local communities.

“Through HTI, we are preparing kids to see a place for themselves in our community, who see their skills, strengths, and passions connected to what’s happening in our local economy,” said Karen Quanbeck, Superintendent, Clear Creek School District. “It has changed how our community has viewed the schools, and school district. It has significantly increased this trajectory of our partnerships.”

HTI districts will continue working with coaches from Colorado Succeeds and Colorado Education Initiative to build on school and community momentum for career-connected learning. In addition to this coaching, districts will continue to work with and learn from one another, benefiting from the knowledge and resource sharing of an expanding network of other communities leading similar, but unique, initiatives. The expansion through Rural Coaction is also increasing partnership with projects that are already underway and seeing success across the state, such as the Fremont Multi-District Initiative and the Southwest Colorado Education Collaborative.

About Homegrown Talent Initiative

HTI is a statewide effort to develop career-connected learning experiences for K-12 students in rural communities across the state. To better prepare for life after graduation, schools and communities strategically come together to imagine their future with focus on skill development, career-connected learning experiences, and flexible opportunities that align to student interests and local industry needs.

HTI is facilitated by Colorado Succeeds and Colorado Education Initiative (CEI), and supported by the Daniels Fund, Walton Family Foundation, Gill Foundation, Adolph Coors Foundation and El Pomar Foundation.


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