As Coloradans begin to move beyond the pandemic and return to some level of normalcy, ACEC remains committed to enhancing career awareness and career development skills for Adams County students and connecting them to post-secondary options.
Today, ACEC is finding ways to prepare our youth to play a role in the economic revitalization of our state and the rebuilding of our community. We are adapting to the new realities of education and industry and connecting in new and innovative ways.
ACEC Successfully Pivots to Virtual Events During Pandemic Year
Due to constraints in force this academic year, ACEC pivoted from in-person events to holding all of our programing virtually. More than 3000 Adams County youth participated in ACEC events and programs during the academic year. The virtual format for some events enabled companies to showcase their facilities and equipment directly from their offices, enabled students to hold discussions with business professionals in diverse locations in Colorado and across the country, and lessened participation costs for schools, businesses and ACEC. Some elements of the virtual format will be carried forward even when schools are able to return to in-person events.
Adams County Commissioners’ Career Expo For the Career Expo in November 2020, more than 2,000 students from 34 middle schools participated virtually. Some students were able to participate in their school setting, but the majority of the students participated from their homes. Some 80 exhibitors participated, including 65 business and higher education exhibitors and 15 student-led exhibitors. While both the number of student participants and exhibitors were lower compared to previous years, feedback from students, teachers and businesses were impressed that the event allowed students to connect in new ways with exhibitors and explore career pathways. Two students tied for the Expo’s Top Student awards--Evelyn Ramirez from Prairie View Middle School and Isabella Filio from Thunder Vista P-8. Students were scheduled to visit four exhibitors and the two award winners were able to visit five businesses and make a notable impression on them! Prairie View Middle School had the most students participate. Both students were recognized by the Adams County Commissioners at a virtual Public Hearing meeting.
Backpacks to Briefcases The Backpacks to Briefcases (B2B) event transitioned to a half day virtual event held in April. At the start of the day, students attended a Career Panel discussion where four business professionals spoke of struggles and triumph during their professional and personal lives. Students then chose three workshops to attend.B2B offered 12 workshop sessions on 12 unique topics delivered by facilitators from business, higher education and professional leadership organizations. Some 200 students registered, and more than 140 students participated in the event.
Apprenticeship Fair Students attended the Apprenticeship Fair to learn more about career pathways that didn’t require a four-year degree and were pleased to discover representatives from a multitude of industries on hand, including skilled trades, healthcare, IT, hospitality, energy and financial services. A representative from each of the 24 exhibitors participated on an opening panel spending a few minutes describing what their company or pathway offers in terms of apprenticeships and careers. One hundred students registered for the event and more than 70 logged into the event.
ACEC Continues Development of Pre-Apprenticeship Programs
Careers in Construction Interest in the Careers in Construction pathway program that ACEC introduced to Adams County high schools continues to grow. In 2019-2020, 194 students from three high schools participated and 60% received certifications. In 2020-2021, 330 students participated from four high schools and close to 80% will get certifications. Next year, two additional high schools will join the program, bringing the total to six high schools in the county. In addition, 30 students out of the 2019-2020 group were hired on as full time or part time following the school year. This year, 13 have been hired so far.
New IT Pre-Apprenticeship TechSmart, a Washington state-based company, has been having discussions with local school districts around the growth of the tech industry in Denver, the high demand for entry level software developers and a model for preparing high school students to compete for these high demand jobs directly from high school.
As a result of this dialogue, ACEC will now partner with TechSmart to establish a pathway for students to graduate high school and move into an “apprenticeship” opportunity as a software developer with an IT company. It would involve students learning Python computing code vs. the Java computing code that is traditionally taught in Computer Science AP classes. Two Adams County school districts, Bennett and Adams 14, have committed to moving forward with this pathway next fall.
Commitment to Healthcare Pre-Apprenticeship Program ACEC originally accepted 16 students into its fall 2020 pre-apprenticeship program with Centura Health, St. Anthony North Hospital and Front Range Community College. Although the pandemic derailed the start of the program, Centura Health hopes to be able to start with its first cohort in Spring 2022. The pre-apprenticeship allows students to earn 2 college credits while also shadowing various allied health roles throughout the hospital. This program will specifically target high school seniors who can use this experience to move seamlessly into Centura Health’s apprenticeship program in these fields once they graduate high school.
Adams County Scholarship Fund Students Get Support They Need to Graduate and Shine
ACEC has been the fiscal agent for the Adams County Scholarship Fund (ACSF) since 2016 and is pleased to announce graduation rates for the first two groups of scholars, the 2016 and 2017 cohorts. This Adams County Scholarship Fund 2016 cohort recorded a 4-year graduation rate of 53%, while the five-year graduation rate is 67%, while the six-year graduation rate is on track to reach 70%. This ACSF rate is significantly above the national averages of four-year graduation rate for students attending public colleges and universities is 33.3% with a six-year rate is 57.6%. For the 2017 cohort (2nd cohort), 62 students started out in this scholarship program and 48 students were enrolled this funding year. Thirty students, almost 50% of the original cohort, graduated in four years.
Zary Nava- Being a first-generation student was also a challenge I had to face. With both of my parents never pursing college for reasons beyond themselves, my father started to work at the age of fourteen to help his family maintain a roof over their heads. And my mother who was not given the chance or the opportunity to have a middle or high school education in Mexico. Since a young age, all they’ve done is motivate me to an education beyond high school, to achieve things they could never. But it was struggle. I had no one who attended college to guide me or give me advice of what it might look like. I felt like I had no one who could understand the amount of stress, and struggles I had to go through. No one to cry to when it just got to be too much. I was the first to take a step in a terrain unknown. To advance forward in a world beyond my own. But I made it. My parents, my brothers, my uncles and aunts, my cousins, they all supported me, and cheered for me, and were genuinely happy for my success, as they all saw my journey from the start to the end. Even though I felt I had no one, I actually had a whole family to back me up.This scholarship did not, and I mean DID NOT, just help me financially, it helped me find a passion (a dream!) again, it helped me realize that even as small as I am, I can help another person make their future brighter again. It allowed me to learn, and to explore, it helped me be stricter with myself, to push myself out of my comfort circle, and it also allowed my family to be proud. I wouldn’t be the person I am now without it.
Workforce Development Scholarship
ACEC obtained funding from the Adams County Foundation and the State of Colorado in 2019 to administer scholarships for certificate and apprenticeship opportunities for low-income Adams County youth 16-24 years old. ACEC continues to offer Workforce Development scholarships to students pursuing a certificate or apprenticeship program. These scholarships have aided students pursuing certifications to become welders, firefighters, early-childhood teachers, CNAs, and paralegal professionals.
Scott Melvin’s career goals involve welding. He started welding in high school as a freshman and fell in love with it. After he graduated from high school he knew welding was something that he wanted to pursue for a career. He hopes to get into a custom fabrication shop that works with building signs or other custom pieces for local businesses. Scott states, “this scholarship helped me obtain my degree by allowing me to afford the few remaining classes needed to graduate. It also allowed me to purchase materials off-site for various class projects, thus letting me explore the creative side of welding more and helped me realize that is the path I would like to take when entering the real world. I do want to thank the Adams County Education Consortium again for giving me the resources to complete this degree”. He completed his ARC Welding Certificate, Fabrication Welding Certificate, Intermediate Welding Certificate and AAS Fabrication Welding Degree this fall.
Goodwill and ACEC Partner for Success
ACEC and Goodwill collaborated on an innovative program to implement a grant from the Colorado Workforce Development Council designed to smooth the pipeline from school to the workforce for youth. The partnership supported 100 high school seniors in Adams County who were interested in pursuing careers in skilled trades, health care, IT and manufacturing and gave them the support they needed to launch their careers by transitioning them into careers that require certificate achievement or apprenticeship training. Goodwill employed its college-career focused curriculum, college and career readiness workshops/events, and case management services to expose students to opportunities and help move them into career opportunities.
ACEC placed our Community Forum meetings on hold at the start of the pandemic. We are excited to announce that we will start holding Community Forums in the fall. They will be held once a quarter throughout the school year. The Community Forums bring industry, government agency, K-12 and higher-education representatives together around topics of workforce training and opportunities. If you have a topic of interest or would like to be a presenter, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like to add yourself to the invitation list click the button below.
We would like to thank our community partners that have supported our programs in this trying year. Thank you to ACEC partner members: the City of Thornton, the City of Brighton, St. Anthony’s North Health Campus and the City of Westminster. Thank you to our event sponsors: Ramos Law, Coda Coffee, Geotech Environmental Equipment, Inc. Adams 12 Five Star Schools and United Power. Your contributions are greatly valued and enable us to positively impact thousands of Adams County youth each year in their search for a career pathway.
How You Can Help
Since its inception in 2005, ACEC has worked with a multitude of education, business, and community partners to increase career readiness program development for students that also addresses needed and emerging occupations in the region. ACEC’s programs help students understand that career success demands a certificate, apprenticeship, associate degree, bachelor’s degree or high levels of education achievement.
In these difficult economic times, making a donation to ACEC is a great way to support more youth gaining the career and college readiness skills needed to move forward in school, work and life. Your donation will directly support our efforts to continue to provide work-based learning opportunities for Adams County youth and enhance their career pathways.
Thank you again for your ongoing support of our efforts!