“Imagine a world where school, careers, and personal events are no longer separate parts of our lives. In the future, working, learning, and living will become increasingly inseparable, not by choice, but in order to thrive in a rapidly evolving learning economy.”

There are two components of a quality Work-Based Learning Community

Nancy Westfall - Student Pathways Coordinator 719-877-2144

Chris Locke - Student Pathways Coordinator 719-877-2145

Career Pathways

A Career Pathway is a series of structured and connected education programs and support services that enable students, often while they are working, to advance over time to better jobs and higher levels of education and training.  The Colorado's Work-based Learning Continuum provides examples of when and how to incorporate experiential learning opportunities, like High Impact Educational Practices (HIPS) between 11-14th grades, allowing exploration of careers to be conducted through job shadows, guest speakers, clubs, service learning projects, and cooperative education.

The concept of a pathway should be seen as the collaboration between both K12 and Institutions of Higher Education. Blurring the lines between K12 and Higher Ed while focusing on individual student success.

Rural Coaction Grant

Overview of Rural Coaction

Rural districts, BOCES, and other local education providers (LEPs) provide students in their communities with high-quality learning experiences each and every day.

To expand student pathway opportunities and career-connected learning, partnerships among and across districts and BOCES can be very valuable

Collaborative action (also referred here as coaction) allows districts and BOCES to work together in partnership to increase opportunities for students across their regions.

As such, CDE is launching the Rural Coaction Program to seed the creation of new and further the development of existing partnerships and pathways for learning in our rural communities.

This program will be funded through the American Rescue Plan’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER III) funds.

With these funds:

- Districts will build capacity and resources (primarily to build student career pathways and learning opportunities),

- Be able to incentivize hard-to-fill positions,

- Be more adequately positioned to attract quality staff, and

- Increase opportunities for student growth and achievement, in addition to strengthening and/or maintaining relationships with industry partners and IHE’s.

The purpose of funding is to improve student engagement in learning—particularly for those students most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic—through increased collaborative action that results in the creation and/or expansion of student pathways/career-connected learning opportunities amongst rural Colorado school districts and/or BOCES, community partners, and Institutions of Higher Education (IHE’s) in ways that innovatively address local needs.

Structure and Partnerships

Homegrown Talent Initiative Homegrown Talent Initiative (

HTI Goals: Change the narrative around what’s possible in rural Colorado communities

  • Improve the lives of rural students and their communities by promoting relevant and dynamic skill development and work-based learning in students.
  • Empower rural communities as champions of systems-level change in education
  • Build momentum for future career-connected initiatives in other districts across the state
Useful links

Rural school districts interested in crafting unique learning opportunities for their students may want to consider learning more about High Impact Educational Practices.

While internships are an important piece of career-connected learning, there are other opportunities for students to gain skills, and build valuable career-ready experience.

For more information visit: