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Eagle County Collaborative for Career Pathways awarded just shy of $1 million

Collaborative includes YouthPower365, Vail Valley Partnership and the Eagle County School District

The Eagle County Collaborative helps local youth, grades 8 to 12, as they gain the knowledge, skills and expertise necessary to obtain and sustain a quality career.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily archive

The Eagle County Collaborative for Career Pathways — a partnership between YouthPower365, Vail Valley Partnership and the Eagle County School District — was named one of six winners of SyncUp Colorado Workforce Design Challenge.

The initiative has a $5 million prize pool, and a prize was awarded to six partnerships that answered the challenge question of: “How might we accelerate education-to-employment partnerships that support Coloradans ages 12 to 24 to make informed choices and obtain job relevant skills to build quality careers?”

The winners were announced Monday by ZOMALAB, in partnership with the Colorado governor’s office, Colorado Succeeds, Colorado Thrives, SemperVirens, Skillful a Markle initiative and Strada Education Network.



The Eagle County collaborative was awarded $971,600 in scale funding to continue its support of local youth, grades 8 to 12, as students gain the knowledge, skills and expertise necessary to obtain and sustain a quality career.

The Eagle County Collaborative for Career Pathways seeks to bridge the gap between education and employment, grow the number of students pursuing meaningful modern, non-college careers after school and reduce gaps in the skilled workforce pipeline to feed into our community.



“With this critical funding we will be able to ensure that our young people have the guidance and support they need during this critical time in their lives,” said Sara Amberg, executive director of YouthPower365, in a news release. “Choosing a career pathway is a complex and difficult endeavor. With this grant, our young people will have opportunities to explore different industries and professions, gain real-life work experience and skills, and ultimately choose paths that will lead them to fulfilling, productive lives. We are grateful to everyone involved and look forward to collaborating with our partners at Vail Valley Partnership and Eagle County School District.”

The funding will help the collaborative grow its programming in the future and expand its impact.

“With this financial support we will now be able to expand on the highly-valuable programming that we’ve been able to offer in partnership with YouthPower365 and Eagle County School District,” said Erik Williams, director of community development for the Vail Valley Partnership. “We are overjoyed to think about the incredible positive impact this will have on our next generation.”

“Young people throughout our community will now have a complete tool set for to help them examine and determine their future,” said Dr. Katie Jarnot, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction for Eagle County School District. “This funding will continue to grow the robust post-secondary readiness opportunities that exist in Eagle County School District and provide students with enhanced mentorship and guidance they need to explore different career pathways, and to make quality decisions that will ultimately have a tremendous positive impact on their lives and for all of us in the community.”

SyncUp Colorado

SyncUp Colorado received more than 130 applications across 40 high-growth industries representing more than 200 Colorado-based organizations with early- and mid-stage partnership solutions. Applicants had opportunities to win between $350,000 and $2 million per partnership application.

The judges for the competition were Luella Chavez D’Angelo, CEO of Colorado Inclusive Economy; Ryan Craig, co-founder and managing director of University Ventures; David Dragoo, founder of Mayfly Outdoors; Alison Griffin, senior vice president of Whiteboard Advisors; Kristen Hamilton, senior vice president of Strategic Partnerships at Guild Education; Rebecca Holmes, president and CEO of Colorado Education Initiative, and Dwight Jones, senior deputy superintendent of Equity and Engagement at Denver Public Schools.

“SyncUp Colorado catalyzed connections we’ve not seen before across employers of all sizes, intermediaries, technology innovators, and educators from the front range to rural areas of the state. The winning solutions and partnerships meet evolving labor market needs, offer valuable skills and competencies, and increase access to affordable resources and training,” Hamilton said.

Colorado’s job growth average is nearly double the national average. However, according to the 2020 Colorado Talent Pipeline Report, while 88% of new jobs in the state require a post-secondary degree, only 58% of Coloradans have a certificate, associate’s, bachelor’s and/or professional degree. Of those earning bachelor’s degrees, two-thirds graduate with significant debt. Additionally, Colorado is behind the national average in high school graduation with 82% of Colorado’s high school students graduating in four years, compared to a national average of 88%.

In a recent statewide survey conducted by Colorado Succeeds, 86% of Colorado’s employers said the skills gap is a threat to their businesses.

The Eagle County Collaborative for Career Pathways was among six winning partnerships that collectively bring modern apprenticeships and hybrid college approaches to serve broad geographies and beneficiaries statewide and represent solutions across fast growing industries in Colorado including health care and construction.

“Our hope was to inspire and accelerate innovative partnerships across the state to support the future economic and career success of young Coloradans. In addition to the outstanding winners, we were so impressed and inspired by the community of partnerships that applied and the caliber of their solutions that we want to support the other applicants and finalists in connecting with additional funding opportunities and resources to bring their solutions to fruition,” said Ben Walton, co-founder of ZOMALAB, which sponsored the SyncUp Colorado competition.

SyncUp Colorado will host a demo day for the remaining 21 finalists to pitch their solutions to prospective funders.

For more information on the winning partnerships, visit: SyncUpColorado.org.


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