Start with why.

Earlier this year I shared a similar message with all of you on Simon Sinek’s challenge to leaders to not focus on what they do or how they do it, but rather on why they do what they do.

Looking back at this year and reflecting on all our coalition has accomplished, the importance of starting with “why” still rings true for me.

2017 was a landmark year for public education in Colorado, with many public policy changes and initiatives spurring the shifts our schools need and our students deserve for success in the innovation economy. Thanks to your commitment, investment, and engagement, our coalition championed:

  • Richer opportunities than ever for Colorado students to study and excel in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) subjects,
  • A historic measure to equalize funding for Colorado students, regardless of the type of public school they attend,
  • The Inaugural year of The Succeeds Prize, which recognized Colorado’s educators and awarded them with $137,000,
  • The launch of Colorado STEM 2.0, a public-private coalition of stakeholders with a dedicated focus on improving STEM education, and
  • The launch of Vision 2030, our quest for the future of education in an unpredictable and evolving future.

As you will see in this recap of our year, the list above barely scratches the surface of all our coalition accomplished in support of Colorado’s kids.

Looking ahead to 2018, Colorado Succeeds will go deeper to drive even greater impact. We will support partners in implementing policy changes that we know drive success. We will further scale what is working and provide educators with the tools and funding needed to do so. And we will help inform voters and candidates throughout the gubernatorial race to ensure the next governor of Colorado prioritizes education, builds on the strong body of work already in place, and doesn’t shy away from the tough decisions that lead to real, systemic change. Gentle pressure, relentlessly applied.

Thank you for your continued investment and partnership in this important work. As a member of Colorado Succeeds, you continue to inspire me with your generosity and commitment to all of Colorado’s children.

I look forward to continuing our shared mission to provide every Colorado student with the education they deserve, and all Colorado businesses with the homegrown talent they need to thrive.

Scott Laband

2017 By the Numbers

New Members


Stories & Articles

citing Colorado Succeeds and our work



to transformational schools & educators



we supported signed into law



of public funding steered toward our shared priorities



on social media engaging with our work

Engage Business


Directing the Future of Education in Colorado

Colorado Succeeds members met with key education policymakers and leaders to provide business input on their efforts. This includes Sen. Owen Hill and Representative Brittany Petterson, Chairs of Colorado’s Senate and House Education Committees, as well Dr. Kim Hunter Reed of the Colorado Department of Higher Education and Dr. Katy Anthes of the Colorado Department of Education.


Providing Business Input on Colorado’s Academic Standards

Colorado began the process of revising its academic standards this year. Academic standards guide student learning and identify what children should know and be able to do at each grade level. Colorado Succeeds members worked directly with the Colorado Department of Education to make sure the business community’s feedback is included and reflected in the updated standards.


Advocating for Kids

We supported and trained more than 350 business leaders throughout the year, resulting in 60 business leaders taking an advocacy action to advance our priorities. Our members proved to be effective, with 10 key policies we supported passing the entire General Assembly.

Great Schools are Good Business Luncheon

Nearly 75 business leaders joined us for our annual kick off to the legislative session. The discussion covered the rapid transformations needed to meet 21st century education demands. Members heard from Jaime Casap, Google’s Chief Education Evangelist, Colorado’s famous ‘kidpreneur’ Jack Boneau, creator of Jack’s Stands and Marketplaces and a student in Adams 12 Five Star Schools, and Kellie Lauth, then-STEM Coordinator for Adams 12.

Shape Public Policy

In 2017, Colorado Succeeds played a key role in developing and passing policies that will position Colorado as a national leader in creating valuable pathways for all students to achieve success. Here’s how these new laws benefit students, educators, and taxpayers.

How Colorado’s Kids Will Benefit

Colorado became the first state to ensure local funding for education is shared equally with public charter school students.
Technology skills will now be included in Colorado’s academic standards, which guide student learning from elementary through high school.
will recognize and reward a high school students’ mastery in one or more STEM fields and their acquisition of essential skills like critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity.
Tech professionals now have the ability to co-teach computer science courses without needing a teaching license.
Incentives for districts to prepare students for life beyond high school
School districts are now encouraged to offer students multiple pathways that demonstrate college and career readiness, including industry credentials and concurrent enrollment courses.
A new law will expand the number of P-TECH programs, which bridge high school, community college, and the workplace into one six-year pathway.

How Colorado’s Educators Will Benefit

A competitive grant program will provide funds for teachers to complete computer science degrees, industry recognized certificates, or other high-quality training programs.
New computer science resources, materials, and support
The creation of a new, industry-led computer science resource bank will give educators access to free, open-source tools and programs to help them start or expand computer science programs.
Undisturbed educator evaluation practices
Colorado’s pioneering educator evaluation and tenure reform law provides educators with frequent, meaningful feedback about their performance and opportunities to improve. This law remains intact despite attempts to weaken it.

How Colorado’s Taxpayers Will Benefit

A new legislative interim committee will work to improve the efficiency, equity, and effectiveness of Colorado’s antiquated formula for funding schools.
Continued implementation of school and district accountability measures
Five bills that would have drastically weakened Colorado’s assessment system, and undermined efforts to hold schools and districts accountable for student performance were defeated.
A more meaningful 9th grade assessment (PSAT) will replace the PARCC test
The PSAT is aligned to the SAT students take in their junior year and will save the state over $600,000.

Ensuring High-Quality School Choice

Lead Initiatives

Advancing Work-Based Learning Statewide

The Incentives for Industry Credentials Program, championed by Colorado Succeeds in 2016, rewards schools financially when students earn an industry-recognized credential, participate in a workplace training program, or pass the AP computer science test.

The program just finished its first year. Here are stories of impact across the state.

Salida School District

Like many Colorado mountain communities, affordable housing in Salida is challenging to find, especially for local educators. The Salida School District, in close partnership with local businesses and the community college, took matters into their own hands by creating a construction trades apprenticeship program.

St. Vrain Valley Schools

St. Vrain Valley Schools is home to a bevy of high tech companies, construction projects, and a host of other career opportunities requiring specialized education and certifications. Community need and state incentives have accelerated the district’s already strong investment in career success programs.

Launching the Future of STEM in Colorado

In 2017, Colorado Succeeds became the new host organization for Colorado STEM, a public-private partnership started in 2014. Since its launch, Colorado STEM has built a diverse coalition of stakeholders from across Colorado with a dedicated focus on improving STEM education statewide. As a collective impact model, the Colorado STEM network enables Colorado Succeeds to connect business leaders directly with educators, schools, and districts in exciting new ways.

Colorado STEM 2.0 Vision:
All Colorado learners have the STEM education and experiences needed to succeed in the innovation economy.

STEM Champions Top Priorities:

  • Align the state’s education system with workforce demands through high-quality STEM education and experiences;
  • Expand high-quality STEM education and experiences for all students, with a particular focus on students who are underrepresented in STEM fields; and
  • Create more opportunities for all students to gain STEM literacy, skills, and competencies that are highly demanded by Colorado’s economy and highly-skilled labor market.

Vision 2030: Our Quest for Education in the Age of Agility

We are entering the Age of Agility, an era characterized by accelerating adoption of artificial intelligence and automation. This has huge implications for Colorado, which has struggled to produce homegrown, skilled talent.

In order for Colorado’s education system to meet the demands of this new age, Colorado Succeeds explored what experiences and competencies children entering kindergarten classrooms today, the students who will graduate from high school in 2030, need to achieve well-being in their lives.

The result: Vision 2030. Vision 2030 outlines seven education principles for increasing the agility of the system, six educational experiences we desire for all students, and five transferable competencies we need all students to acquire so they can succeed in a rapidly changing environment.

Members in Action

Our members are effective advocates for our coalition’s shared priorities. One way we extend our influence is through authoring opinion pieces in Colorado outlets:

The Succeeds Prize

The Succeeds Prize

On October 3, 2017, Colorado Succeeds joined forces with 9NEWS, mindSpark Learning, and Governors Hickenlooper, Ritter, and Owens to co-host The Inaugural Succeeds Prize. The Succeeds Prize is a new effort to recognize Colorado’s educators, reward high-performing schools, and scale promising practices and innovations.

The event was just the first step for The Succeeds Prize. We will next study what makes our winners and finalists successful and share this with educators statewide to benefit all of Colorado’s children. We hope you will continue to join us in this endeavor to show educators across our state that we value their impactful work, we admire their commitment, and we are grateful for their partnership in future-building.

“Thank you for the opportunity to refine our dream. We love our community. We love our school. We love our jobs.”

Tara Hardman, Teacher at STEM Launch K-8

“We’re here to honor those of you who make history every day by developing the minds of our children and challenging them to do more than they ever thought possible.”

Ken Tuchman, CEO of TeleTech

If your goal was to make us feel important, you really did that.”

Manuel Ramsey, Principal of Bristol Elementary School

“In the country where I grew up, we called educators heroes. In the country where I live now, we call educators heroes, too.”

Hikmet Ersek, CEO of Western Union



to scale best practices & innovation



across business, education, and government



on 9NEWS and Facebook Live



social media impressions during the event

Plus, #TheSucceedsPrize trended on Twitter


Statewide Coalition Building in Nashville, TN

Colorado Succeeds led a delegation of statewide business leaders to Nashville, TN in November.

Tennessee is the fastest improving state in the country for education, and our delegation met with local education, civic, and business leaders to learn from their success. Members also shared the great work happening across Colorado to enhance what is already working.

“BizCARES is bringing together the right Colorado leaders to discuss industry involvement in education. Always high level, well-planned, and informative.”
“I’m looking forward to bringing some of these ideas back to my company to see if we can shift our thinking around workforce development, and see if we can get more deeply involved on a state level.”
“This trip reconfirmed the critical relationship between education and workforce.”