Formerly called the Denver Education Attainment Network (DEAN), the Denver Partnership ignites and accelerates systems change, connecting stakeholders and driving collaboration to build an education-to-career system that works better for all learners, with a focus on learners who have historically and presently been excluded from high-value career pathways. Our vision is two-fold: 1) Dramatically increase the number and diversity of learners who complete credentials that lead to good jobs; 2) Forge a national model for closing equity gaps and increasing postsecondary attainment resulting in family-living wage employment.
Now a statewide organization, the Attainment Network mobilizes education-to-workforce partners to improve processes and break down barriers so that all learners may access and complete education and skills training that lead to family-living wage employment. Colorado has outpaced the majority of the country in post-pandemic recovery. However, economic disparities persist for lower-income Coloradans, and particularly people of color, who have been disproportionately impacted. Creating opportunity for all requires a new approach to educating, cultivating, recruiting and retaining talent.
The Denver Talent Hub convened K12 schools, community colleges, technical colleges, and four-year universities to map 32 degree and credential pathways leading to in-demand jobs. These direct pathways include multiple on and off ramps to allow students to seamlessly transition between work and education, and ensure full credit articulation for prior learning.
Fulfilling their role as a regional and state intermediary, the Attainment Network supported an additional 13 FTE positions at various partner organizations to advance systems change through a set of grants between 2017-2020. Acting as a flexible and effective capacity builder, the Talent Hub is an exemplar at braiding funds to make a concentrated impact on student outcomes.
DEAN convenes a Data Working Group to build a shared pathways data set and develop a data evaluation process with agreed-upon protocols for collecting, sharing and analyzing data to inform collaborative action. The framework will provide structure to collaboratively analyze data, to develop cross-institutional strategies to address the data and to measure the efficacy of those strategies.
DEAN convenes an Academic Alignment and Implementation Working Group to create clear academic and career maps that connect K-12 to postsecondary to employment and alleviate procedural burdens on learners. The team develops common processes and shared templates that are required to map cross-institutional pathways with built-in postsecondary accelerators like concurrent enrollment, work-based learning and industry certifications. The shared mapping processes ensure clear applicability and transferability that can advance learners along a pathway. The team was instrumental in providing content and context for the state HB 20-1002 College Credit for Work Experience plan, including a standardized PLA process.
DEAN also convenes a Student Support Working Group to develop cross-institutional advising and navigation strategies that ensure structure and supports along career pathways – intentionally focusing on the areas where leaners often get lost. This team identifies barriers and opportunities for cross-institutional advising, navigation and other student support strategies focused on recruitment, enrollment, retention, completion and transitions to workforce. The team also works on ongoing professional development for counselors and college advisors, ensuring increased knowledge and utilization of the pathways model.
Denver Public Schools – K-12 District – is comprised of nearly 200 schools, including traditional, magnet, charter and pathways schools, with a current total enrollment of more than 92,000 students. Of those, 56.7% of the school district’s enrollment is Hispanic, 21.9% is Caucasian, and 14.1% is African American. 67% percent of the district’s students qualify for free and reduced lunch.
In six years, DPS’ on-time graduation rate has risen by 24 percentage points, while dropout rates have been cut in half. School districts across the country look to Denver as a leader in thoughtful school innovation, and seek to study and replicate the initiatives in DPS that produce positive results for students.