The State of Colorado Succeeds

Transforming Education to Will Require Business Leaders to Be Bold

Xcel Energy recently announced a bold vision to deliver 80 percent carbon-free electricity by 2030 and 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2050. We are the first utility in the world to announce this ambitious goal. And we are proud to lead the world for a carbon-free future.

We are confident with the current technologies in place today that we can reach our goal of 80 percent carbon-free electricity by 2030. But we don’t know quite yet the solution to achieve our 100 percent carbon-free goal by 2050. What we do know is that it will take innovative and transformational technology to make that ambitious goal possible. 

Alice_XcelWith strong STEM programs in our schools, the students of today will be the creators of that technology in the future.

The connection between Colorado Succeeds and Xcel Energy is clear, especially with both of us having bold visions for 2030. Last year, Xcel Energy reinvested over $700,000 in STEM and workforce development strategies in Colorado. Like Colorado Succeeds, we at Xcel Energy see education and economic sustainability as mutually inclusive, rather than separate, siloed strategies.

Colorado Succeeds serves as the entry point for business leaders who want to improve the learning experiences for Colorado’s kids. I’m encouraged by the momentum we’re building in drawing more leaders to our coalition.

A year ago we unveiled our Vision 2030 Framework, which serves as our North Star and informs how, together, we can build lifelong learners, prepared for the dynamic workforce ahead of them.

At its core, our work is focused on four things. Creating agile learners, agile educators, agile systems, and the conditions that enable that agility.

Over the past twelve months, we engaged with hundreds of stakeholders to find ways we could move agility forward and learn from leaders in the field. We began with a landscape analysis to identify and understand the high-quality programs and student experiences in Colorado that are developing agile learners. Through this research, we built definitions of success, identified proof points, and opportunities for impact.

Next, we worked with diverse stakeholders from across Colorado through the Education Leadership Council to build agility into the state’s vision and strategic plan for improving education in Colorado. And we couldn’t be more pleased to have secured Governor Jared Polis’ commitment to build on that work.

We also worked with over 150 education, business, and government partners to create the Colorado Roadmap to Work-Based Learning, a web-based tool to support the expansion and development of high-quality career exploration and pathway opportunities. We took the Roadmap on a roadshow connecting employers and educators to ideas, resources, and one another.

Finally, we convened a roundtable of a dozen local philanthropists from corporations and private foundations to identify what it could look like to coordinate more proactively and align funding to this vision of agility in the near-, mid-, and long-term. This enabled us to establish clear outcome targets for the creation of agile learners, educators, and systems. 

All this work also informed our Agility Advocacy Agenda which gives life to Vision 2030 through tangible policy strategies that Colorado Succeeds will continue to research, develop, and share going forward. This agenda is designed to transform the accessibility and value of post-secondary pathways in Colorado, which we know are critical to a student’s future success.

We see our work falling into three core strategies that build on one another to create a continuous feedback loop to encourage iteration in nimble and agile ways.

  1. We use PUBLIC POLICY as a lever to remove barriers to innovation in education and incentivize promising practices. We advocate for system changes that give schools and families the flexibility and freedom to experiment with new models and approaches to learning. We ensure accountability and autonomy are two sides of the same coin.
  2. We then put these policies into PRACTICE by working with education early adopters, who take advantage of these windows of opportunity and help inform the value of these policies, as well as identify stubborn barriers. Despite our best intentions, we know that all policy has unintended consequences and so by creating partners in practice, we develop a deep understanding of policy impact. This allows us to make adjustments to the path forward for communities, students, and educators.
  3. We then walk the walk and supercharge these efforts through the infusion of PHILANTHROPY to invest collaboratively in communities that bring together educators and industry to integrate education and economic development strategies. Through increased coordination and communication, we can leverage dollars from Colorado Succeeds members against private philanthropists and the state’s general fund to create a synergistic approach to funding innovation at scale.

Simply put, we remove barriers through public policy, work with early adopters to create partnerships, and then work with philanthropists to make sure early adopters have resources they need to succeed.

The role of Colorado Succeeds has never been clearer or more exciting. We are business leaders representing various industries in all 64 counties. Together, we are all Colorado Succeeds and we are building a movement to make sure all kids have a chance to achieve their greatest potential.

Alice Jackson is the President of Xcel Energy – Colorado and a member of the Colorado Succeeds Board of Trustees. Click here to view the highlights video of our annual members’ meeting.

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