President Barack Obama announced Monday that Denver Public Schools is one of only 24 agencies nationwide to receive a Youth CareerConnect grant from the US Department of Labor and Education. The $7 million grant is among the largest grants awarded through the program. Through the work of the DPS Foundation, the Denver community has stepped up to add to this investment in dramatically improving career and technical education—with a special focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programs—by providing a $2.3 million match to the federal grant, raising the grant total to $9.3 million. DPS is one of six agencies nationwide to receive the highest grant amount of $7 million.
Eight Denver high schools will benefit from the Youth CareerConnect grant, which will expand career and technical education programs focused on the following industries: engineering/energy and engineering technology; biomedical science and healthcare; information technology and digital media; finance; and advanced manufacturing.
“It’s wonderful to see our community step up to support such an impactful investment in our schools and our students,” said DPS Superintendent Tom Boasberg. “With this major federal grant and the additional support from our community partners, our high schools will be able to provide our students with the technical education that is such a big part of the 21st Century college and career landscape. This is a burgeoning part of the economy, and we need to open the doors for our students to the colleges and universities that will get them ready for a successful career in these fields.”
The Youth CareerConnect grant will expand programs that provide opportunities for students to participate in a paid internship or job shadow and complete a capstone project that demonstrates how they applied the skills and knowledge learned in the classroom to their workplace-based learning experience. DPS will also work with workforce investment partners to provide career fairs and summer industry academies.
“This is about getting our students ready for college and equipping them with the skills necessary to pursue high-skill college and career tracks,” Boasberg added. “Our schools are committed to ensuring each of our students has the skills and knowledge to achieve their career and college goals.”
As part of the grant investment and via the DPS Foundation, more than 30 community partners, from both public and private sectors, have committed $2,333,000 in cash and in-kind contributions to fund the implementation of the new STEM-related curriculum pathways. Community support for the grant came from a cross-section of businesses, higher education institutions, city offices and community and statewide organizations.
“As the DPS Foundation was out in the community to help secure over $2.3 million of matching in-kind and cash donations to leverage this federal grant, the excitement about developing this rigorous and relevant curriculum in DPS High Schools – strategically aligned with Colorado’s highest workforce needs – was immediately evident,” said Kristin Heath Colon, President & CEO of the Denver Public Schools Foundation.
“The fact that we exceeded the 25% match requirement demonstrates a remarkable collaboration between the business community, higher education institutions and other non-profits,” Colon added. “The enthusiasm and excitement over this grant illustrates the community’s recognition that this is an unprecedented opportunity to impact not only the lives of our DPS students, but also our future workforce through hands-on STEM-focused college and career pathways that will pay dividends in the form of a generation of students better prepared to lead our community into the future.”
Here is a full list of funders and partners:
Colorado Advanced Manufacturing Alliance (CAMA)
Colorado Bioscience Association (CBSA)
Colorado Technology Association (CTA)
Denver Dept. of Public Safety
Denver Public Schools Foundation
Denver Scholarship Foundation
Denver Technology Services Department
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
Jobs for the Future
Denver Office of Economic Development
Denver Workforce Investment Board
Alan and Sue Cohen, Iron and Metals, Inc
Bank of America
Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE)
Arapahoe Community College (ACC)
College in Colorado
Community College of Denver (CCD)
Emily Griffith Technical College
Metro State University of Denver
Red Rocks Community College (RCC)
The eight high schools that will gain expanded programs via the Youth CareerConnect grant are:
Abraham Lincoln High School
CEC Middle College
East High School
Martin Luther King, Jr. Early College
George Washington High School
West Generation Academy
High Tech Early College
John F. Kennedy High School