What is the Homegrown Talent Initiative?

Imagine families, schools, businesses, and higher education coming together to support students in finding their passions, engaging with their community, and developing new skills and competencies, all while simultaneously attaining the credentials necessary to qualify for a wide range of post-secondary pathways. The Homegrown Talent Initiative (HTI) aims to provide the resources and supports needed to achieve this vision – to develop a Colorado where ALL students are lifelong learners.

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HTI is rooted deeply in the context of local community assets and needs, cultivating and solidifying partnerships between often siloed organizations. Facilitated by Colorado Succeeds and Colorado Education Initiative and supported by local and national foundations, including the Daniels Fund, Walton Family Foundation, and Gill Foundation. HTI aims to:

  • Identify exemplary programs already occurring across Colorado and support the documentation of best practice such that others can learn from their efforts.
  • Support communities in leveraging these and other efforts to develop and strengthen access to high quality learning experiences in their schools and districts, as well as multiple pathways that lead learners to success in postsecondary education and career – a concept we call the Career- Connected Learning Continuum.


What is the Career-Connected Learning Continuum?

What are communities committing to?

Through HTI, Colorado Succeeds and Colorado Education Initiative will support regional cohorts of communities to create homegrown, work based learning programs aligned to the Career Connected Continuum. Communities will collaborate to design (Phase 1) and implement (Phase 2) ways to tap into the potential of local talent early on while students are still in middle and high school – so that they can build homegrown opportunity and pathways to serve the unique needs of business and industry in their local community. The project involves six essential components:  

Local community leadership and design teams comprised of K-12, business, and higher education leaders. 

Support to build a high-quality profile of a high school graduate that aligns with local community values.

Participation in a well-supported process to design programs intended to dramatically improve access to pathways that lead to economic opportunity when students leave school.

Colorado-grown inspiration in the form of well-documented innovations already underway in other communities.

Specific technical assistance for local businesses to sustainably work with education systems.

The opportunity for funding to launch designs in communities in the second phase of the project, with the ultimate intent to create high-quality proof points of and champions for this work.

During the Exploration & Design Phase (2019-2020 school year), the selected cohort of 8 communities will visit exemplar sites, participate in a series of convenings and design thinking workshops, and begin to develop their community’s graduate profile and plans for implementation. In the Implementation & Pilot Phase (2020-2022 school years), communities may be eligible for additional investments and may receive in-depth technical assistance and capacity support as they begin to implement their plans. 

What is the community design team?

Each community will form a team comprised of K-12, business, higher education, and parent and community leaders. Specific activities in which teams will participate during the 2019-2020 school year include: 

  • Analyzing current data
  • Visiting exemplar sites
  • Conducting empathy building efforts
  • Developing a profile of a graduate with community and family engagement
  • Designing and prototyping work-based learning pilots aligned to the Career-Connected Continuum
  • Developing priorities and plans for proposed implementation support
Who was selected to participate?

Eight communities (10 districts) will participate in the first year of HTI.

  • Grand County (East & West)
  • Clear Creek
  • Fremont RE-2
  • Holyoke
  • Elizabeth
  • Prowers County (Lamar & Granada)
  • Montezuma-Cortez
  • Durango

See full size map.

What are the industries in these regions?
  • Aerospace
  • Agriculture
  • Business/Entrepreneurship
  • Construction
  • Health Care
  • Hospitality/Tourism
  • Mining

Students in HTI districts

FRL students in HTI districts

High School students in HTI districts

High School students in the largest district

High School students in the smallest district


Average graduation rate gap between FRL and non-FRL students

FRL = Free and reduced-price lunch

For More Information

Read the Vision 2030 Framework and The Colorado Roadmap to Work-Based Learning 
or contact us via the form below.

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