Recently, 200 businesses, nonprofit organizations and institutions of higher education in the Denver metro area came together in support of DPS CareerConnect students at the annual DPS CareerConnect Partnership Breakfast. As early as the fifth grade, CareerConnect helps students explore the types of careers they may be interested in, and gives them purposeful exposure to learning — both in and out of the classroom. Students are able to learn professional skills in their classes at school, and apply them on-the-job through shadow days, internships, apprenticeships and more.
It’s a way of making education make sense for students — building relevance for coursework and life skills studied. And, from a community perspective, it’s also a major strategy to prepare the future workforce with the skills and experience needed for high-growth, in-demand career fields.
All of this made possible through partnerships across the city — from financial institutions, engineering firms, creative agencies and hundreds more — students are able to visualize what their futures could look like.
The breakfast gives community members the opportunity to hear from students who have been impacted by these programs.
Addressing the crowd of over 400 stakeholders, CEC Early College student Jordyn Bentley shared his experience: “From my very first experience with CareerConnect, I learned I had career options that I could explore now, before I get to college, and that I didn’t have to wait. Because of this program and the community, I was able to get started on a career path. Now, I’m studying architecture through my internship, and it has helped me realize I can do this. Thank you for the opportunity.”
Jordyn has experienced many different touchpoints through CareerConnect with varying degrees of commitment — he had a one-on-one mentor, went to exploration events and most recently, an internship.
Students are provided with opportunities to intentionally explore career paths and plan for their futures throughout their DPS experience. They’re able to see what fits them well with many opportunities to change their minds and direction. The goal is for students to leave high school informed, with a solid plan forward along their path to their future career, which can be an apprenticeship, trade school, some college or the military.
“You, our community partners, are very important in achieving our DPS vision that every child succeeds. By providing rigorous school learning and a suite of work-based opportunities to students, our students are experiencing career successes and upward mobility. With your continued support, we’re seeing unprecedented growth in our schools,” said Executive Director of DPS CareerConnect, Lauren Trent.
“Your partnership is a key lever in our students’ successes,” added Nicole Veltzé, Executive Director of the DPS Division of Secondary Education.
Eighth grader Damien Nevarez from Bear Valley International School spoke about his experience visiting Western Area Power Association and how it relates back to his STEM classes at school: “I love technology, I’m always on it,” he said, while the crowd chuckled. “Now that I can see what is out there, I’ll continue my studies in STEM and work hard in school,” he added.
Alfredo Saldivar, a student at High Tech Early College, is pursuing a future career in graphic design. He’s currently participating in an internship, while taking debt-free college courses through the Concurrent Enrollment program. “My CareerCoach mentor has taught me so already. Through this program, I’m gaining a lot of experience, knowledge and some soft skills,” he said.
CareerConnect serves almost half of the high school population in DPS, with plans to expand throughout the district. For more information about college and career readiness programs, visit collegeandcareer.dpsk12.org. For partnership inquiries, email firstname.lastname@example.org.