Today the Denver Public Schools announced an exciting and groundbreaking accomplishment with the award of a U.S. Department of Labor grant earmarked for Career and Technical Education (CTE) efforts throughout the district.
The announcement was made official at a press conference held today at the CEC Middle College of Denver. DPS is working toward leading the country in offering students specialized educational opportunities, making an immediate impact not only on their high school experiences, but setting them on a professional pathway to connect post-secondary and career options. The grant’s objective is to help students reach their career goals more efficiently and with more relevant experience, guiding them to gainful and meaningful employment.
The CEC Middle College has long had these types of programs in place and is considered the flagship school for Career and Technical Education within the district, but this $7 million dollar grant (which will be supplemented by additional support from the private sector, City of Denver and university sector) will in part help fund new initiatives at CEC. Split between eight high schools, a variety of new programs will be developed, including a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) program at John F. Kennedy High School and an automotive mechanics program at the P.U.S.H Academy. CEC will expand its medical careers program as well as begin to phase in a manufacturing component. CEC Principal Scott Springer shared this statistic, “there are currently 5,000 companies in the state of Colorado offering manufacturing opportunities,” which gives a good perspective into the importance of this type of program. “By creating this pipeline, CEC has the opportunity to educate and strengthen our local workforce.”
Superintendent Tom Boasberg said the goal of this initiative is, “to be investing and helping our kids of today learn and master the most cutting-edge and highest technology career opportunities,” allowing them the opportunity “to be able to go on to college or go directly in those career areas that right now are in the technology sector whether that is the environmental sector, the natural resources sector, the health care sector, aerospace sector, high technology manufacturing—those are areas of highest demand for jobs and also high skilled. So really preparing our kids of today for the jobs of tomorrow.”
At the CEC Middle College of Denver, students have the opportunity to take courses in 20 career areas, providing more professional pathways than the rest of the district combined. Areas of concentration at the DPS magnet school include careers ranging from Architectural Technology to Automotive Technology, Fashion, Film Production and Law. As the district embraces this initiative, these opportunities will continue to grow, leading to students who are well on their way to successful careers and having the skills to contribute to the Denver workforce and beyond.
“Student engagement through CTE is better than anything,” Springer said. “Graduation rates are 30% higher for kids that take three or more CTE courses compared to kids who don’t, and attendance averages three weeks more a school year. So there are tons or benefits for kids who take Career and Technical Education.”
With these new opportunities it’s a winning situation all the way around—students, the district and the community benefit. Antwan Wilson of the Office of Post-Secondary Readiness said, “Our mission is simple. We want our students to graduate, we want them to successfully pursue post-secondary options, we want them to be productive world citizens. We want that to be true for every child. This grant is a major part of that.”