Colorado’s Opportunity Now Grant Funds $7M Investment in Career Pathways for St. Vrain Valley Schools and Collaborating Districts

As the initiative’s largest grantee, the Breakthrough Pathways project will implement three comprehensive career pathways in education, advanced manufacturing, and information technology.

St. Vrain Valley Schools, in partnership with Workforce Boulder, Boulder Chamber, Adams 12 Five Star Schools, Weld RE-3J School District, Estes Park School District, University of Colorado Denver, Colorado Education Initiative, Mogli, Salesforce, Cisco, Elevation Solutions, PTA Plastics, McKesson, and Eplexity, is pleased to announce a $7M investment in career pathways through the state of Colorado’s Opportunity Now grant. Governor Jared Polis officially announced Phase 1 grant recipients during a press release today, Thursday, June 22.

“The Breakthrough Pathways project is the culmination of more than a decade of work to create a strong, competitive advantage for St. Vrain Valley Schools students and, by extension, our families, community, state, and nation,” said St. Vrain Valley Schools Superintendent, Dr. Don Haddad. “We are very grateful to this incredible group of partners, which will build on our existing programming and support the most comprehensive public education workforce readiness system in the country. With an impact across multiple communities, including rural areas, we are proud to receive this award and lead our nation’s next advanced manufacturing, teaching, and technology workforce.”

Weld County School District Re-3J Superintendent of Schools Greg Rabenhorst added, “This investment in career pathways exemplifies the fundamental importance of public education in preparing our students for an ever-evolving workforce. We are most excited for our students to have a new opportunity to participate in a teacher preparation pathway. By fostering robust partnerships and delivering innovative programs, the Breakthrough Pathways project will empower our students to thrive in various fields, including education.” 

Using grant funds, St. Vrain and its partners will significantly accelerate industry credential and postsecondary attainment in the state’s most in-demand careers. Partnerships between education, industry, and workforce development centers will ensure a smooth transition between high school, college, and careers. Ultimately, the programs funded by the proposal will produce hundreds of highly trained advanced manufacturing and information technology professionals, as well as early childhood, special education, elementary, middle, and high school teachers. Breakthrough Pathways not only holds the distinction of being the largest Opportunity Now grantee, but it also stands out as the sole recipient of the Opportunity Now Scale Award led by a public school district.

“We have partnered with our Career Elevation and Technology Center for years, helping to co-design its advanced manufacturing program and ensure that we can meet the current and future needs of our customers,” said Donald Williams, Director of Manufacturing for PTA Plastics. “We need this kind of talent, and now we will have a straight pipeline into the high-wage, in-demand jobs available in our industry.”

The grant includes three years of programming, with a focus on the most in-demand industry credentials. A range of strategies – including industry mentors, college coursework, apprenticeships, virtual learning, and internships – will provide students with both technical and durable skills, such as communication and project management.

“For years, we’ve known that Colorado’s future teachers are right here, in our classrooms,” said Dr. Diane Lauer, St. Vrain’s Chief Academic Officer. “Public education lays the foundation for every other profession, so we are thrilled to expand our efforts to recruit, inspire, and prepare the next generation of amazing teachers.”

Adams 12 Five Star Schools Chief Academic Officer Beau Foubert added, “We are honored to be part of this multi-district effort to develop robust, accessible pathways for students to secure a career in education. The responsibility for ensuring a pipeline of highly-qualified, diverse educators lies with each and every one of our districts. We’re confident this grant will expand and accelerate career opportunities for students for years to come.”

St. Vrain Valley Schools