HTI convenes rural education leaders to create new opportunities for students

The Homegrown Talent Initiative (HTI) works alongside schools, businesses, and local communities across rural Colorado to generate career-connected learning for students and encourage collaboration and economic growth.

What began in 2019 as eight communities across the state engaged in this work has grown to become a broader network, with more than 50 districts co-creating and co-designing career exploration and community partnerships to best fit their local contexts. 

Earlier this month, leaders from these rural districts as well as education partners such as BOCES organizations gathered at the Innovation Center of St. Vrain Valley Schools to make connections within and across regions, build new skills, and become inspired to create a new vision for what’s possible for all students.

Through two days of sessions, participants engaged in content and best practices about building thriving rural “educonomies” across Colorado. With a focus on strategic vision, innovative solutions, and learner- and equity-centered work, participants engaged in panels, breakthrough design sessions, and collaborative work time. Big topics tackled included innovative transportation solutions, building regional internships and pathways, industry engagement, and communications and storytelling. 

Bringing partners from all across rural Colorado together for these two days was a moment of pure pride and joy for Colorado Succeeds and Colorado Education Initiative and what we’ve built together to be the Homegrown Talent Initiative Network. We know that when innovative, agile leaders come together and learn from one another, amazing things happen. The power of these communities to invest in their young people and the potential for improving the economic outcomes of their regions was truly felt throughout the two days.

Shannon Nicholas, Chief of Staff

As the next phase of this work continues, we are eager to partner with the more than fifty school districts across the state as they: 

  • Build out graduate profiles, serving as a North Star vision for their schools and communities.
  • Develop new career-connected learning experiences and implementation plans. 
  • Engage industry partners as both co-creators of new experiences aligned to workforce needs and as providers of career-connected learning. 
  • Reconvene in late July to continue moving local systems to regional partnerships statewide between districts and communities. 

This expansion is made possible through the Colorado Department of Education’s Rural Coaction grant and investment from other philanthropic supporters of HTI. Over the course of the coming years, community design teams made up of school and district leaders, educators, students, business leaders, and community members will come together to build unique plans to provide real-world experiences and skill development for their students, based on the strengths and needs of local communities.

We are grateful to the many partners and leaders who make this work possible. Learn more on the Homegrown Talent Network website.

photo of
Madison Knapp