East Grand and West Grand School Districts were asked to discuss their Homegrown Talent Initiative participation with Colorado Succeeds business members. Their reflections and experiences are valuable learnings one year into this project.
Since 2019, East and West Grand School Districts, or The Grands, have worked with Colorado Education Initiative and Colorado Succeeds through the Homegrown Talent Initiative (HTI) to develop an improved vision for their schools, students, and local economy. HTI is rooted deeply in the context of local community assets and needs, and The Grands have led the way in developing a profile of a graduate and career-connected learning experiences that fit their community.
This school year, the districts are introducing new mindsets and programming to their students and communities – unveiling profiles of a graduate/learner, robust and innovative internships, career exploration, and post-secondary opportunities such as career and technical education and concurrent enrollment with higher education institutions.
Working with HTI, has allowed us to hit two targets – learning to be relevant and engaging to students, and better preparing students to navigate the world when they graduate high school.
Through business partnerships we are getting students in the community, not just job shadowing, but solving real world problems right alongside professionals.
– Dr. Darrin Peppard, Superintendent, West Grand School District
A key component of all HTI work is the Profile of a Graduate/Learner. These profiles highlight the skills and competencies that will serve students throughout their education and as they enter the workforce. Since the start of this school year, East Grand and West Grand have prominently displayed these profiles, demonstrating a commitment to these goals and characteristics. School administration and educators are also working together to find new ways to incorporate characteristics from the Profile of a Graduate into their coursework.
In addition to changes in school, The Grands have worked tirelessly across their communities to develop and support their “educonomies” – the shared vision and needs of K-12, higher education, and industry. These efforts have resulted in increased internship opportunities for students, career exploration through job fairs, and more possibilities for students pursuing a trade or technical certification.
Despite the unparalleled challenges of the last year, The Grands have demonstrated a commitment to building new, career-connected experiences for students. Local leaders have prioritized this work as one of their most important strategies to re-engaging students and rebuilding their local economy.
My greatest hope is that educonomy becomes a regular part of our vocabulary in Grand County. That our schools are truly a part of the community. That students are involved in the community, solving problems, working with businesses, and making our community a stronger place.
– Frank Reeves, Superintendent, East Grand School District
Thanks to continued support from the Daniels Fund, Walton Family Foundation, Gill Foundation, and Adolph Coors Foundation, as well as important partnerships with Freeport McMoRan, Grand County Higher Education, Grand County Economic Development, Winter Park Resort, Mountain Parks Electric, Middle Park Health, Granby Chamber of Commerce, and Grand County Builder’s Association, Grand County schools will continue to provide career-connected learning opportunities for students and realize the shared vision of their educonomy.
The vision of the Homegrown Talent Initiative, facilitated by Colorado Succeeds and Colorado Education Initiative, is more important than ever given the current state of our world, and The Grands are exemplary partners and models of the collaboration among education, community, and business HTI hopes to create.