Grant dedicates nearly $1 million to increase postsecondary workforce readiness

high school student working in a classroom

St. Vrain Valley Schools has been awarded a $930,889, four-year grant through the Colorado Department of Education’s School Counselor Corps Grant Program (SCCGP). The grant supports successful transitions for St. Vrain students — from elementary to middle school, middle to high school, and high school to postsecondary education and the workforce — with a focus on attendance and graduation.

“Our goals for this grant are to increase attendance, graduation rates, and ultimately, postsecondary workforce readiness among all St. Vrain students,” said Kristin Hefflon, Student Services Coordinator. 

To achieve these goals, the three-year grant will fund one additional full-time school counselor at Skyline High School, Trail Ridge Middle School, and Mountain View Elementary School. The new counselors will be tasked with developing and implementing sustainable programming focused on transition activities like school, industry, and postsecondary visits, student panels, and information nights. An increased emphasis will also be placed on the Individual Career and Academic Plan (ICAP), a multi-year process that guides students and families in the exploration of career, academic, and postsecondary opportunities.

In addition to programming, counselors will also identify at-risk students and provide additional support for those students and their families, including targeted interventions for identified students with increased needs, offering education for families on the importance of attendance and addressing barriers, and creating opportunities to build stronger relationships between students’ families and schools.

“This is a coordinated effort between our students and families, district departments, and community partners,” Hefflon says. “This grant will allow us to expand upon great work that is already being done in St. Vrain.”

In recent years, St. Vrain has increased the number of school counselors districtwide, adding one counselor to every high school, and ensuring that there is a counselor or interventionist at every one of the elementary schools. In 2017, St. Vrain adopted the ICAP as a graduation requirement, starting with the class of 2021, requiring every graduating student to complete a capstone project focused on their future goals and plans. Last year, St. Vrain’s Student Services and Curriculum Departments began collaboration to further integrate ICAP activities and reflections into core content.

“While counselors discuss ICAP with students, teachers engage students in meaningful career conversations by connecting academics with long term planning and postsecondary exploration,” Hefflon says. “Students are learning that by the time they get to middle school and high school, their purpose is to plan for life after high school.”

While this is not the first SCCGP grant that St. Vrain has received, it is by far the largest. Past grants have provided funding for additional counselors at Longs Peak Middle School, Timberline PK-8, Sanborn Elementary, and Northridge Elementary. Grant counselors in these schools have demonstrated success in increasing school-wide ICAP implementation, transitions to middle school and high school, and family-community engagement.  

Beyond grant funding, St. Vrain also receives continued support from community partners like Boulder County IMPACT, the Colorado Education Initiative, and the Safe Schools Alliance to create systems that will sustain the work implemented through the grant.

“With the support of this grant funding and our community partners, we are shifting the conversation to make the connection between what students are learning now to what they will learn and be able to do as adults,” says Hefflon. “Our goal in St. Vrain is to support every student and prepare them for life after graduation.”

St. Vrain Valley Schools