The Denver Education Attainment Network (DEAN) is a collective impact initiative focused on increasing educational attainment and closing the attainment gap for students in Denver.

Colorado has one of the largest postsecondary attainment gaps in the country. Almost all high-growth, high-demand jobs that pay a living wage for a family of three require some type of postsecondary education. Low-income, minority and first-generation students are especially at risk of being left out of the benefits of the state’s growing economy. Educational attainment for these students matters to the social, economic and civic health of our families, communities and state.

DEAN works in the space between institutions and organizations, connecting work and driving systems change to increase educational attainment, erase equity gaps and increase workforce opportunities.

DEAN uses the term “college” to refer to postsecondary attainment of any type of credential beyond high school, including technical and non-technical certificates and 2-year and 4-year degrees.

Almost all high-growth, high-demand jobs that pay a living wage for a family of three require some type of postsecondary education.

Opportunity for Impact Graphic
Our Goal: Increase post-secondary attainment for students
Increase college attainment for students and graduates of Denver Public Schools (DPS) through collective impact strategies that enable meaningful college and career opportunities for all.
Increase college enrollment by 14%


Increase college enrollment of students from Denver Public Schools (DPS) to 60 percent compared to 46 percent baseline in 2014-2015 (by 2025)

Increase Denver Public Schools persistence rates at Auraria Campus by 5%


69 percent of DPS graduates at the Auraria Campus will persist from year-one to year-two compared to 64 percent baseline in 2014-2015 (3-year goal)

Increase Auraria Campus completion rates by 9%


15 percent of DPS graduates on the Auraria Campus will earn a certificate, associate’s degree or baccalaureate degree within four years compared to 6 percent baseline in 2014-2015 (4-year goal)

Increase Emily Griffith Technical College completion rates by 6%


50 percent of DPS students who enroll in an Emily Griffith Technical College certificate program will earn a certificate compared to 44 percent baseline in 2014-2015 (4-year goal)

Why: A largely low-income district with the highest minority demographic groups negatively impact attainment gap
Denver Public Schools is among the fastest-growing urban school districts in the country with over 92,000 students, a largely low-income district with 67.3 percent of students qualifying for free and reduced price lunch and the largest school district in Colorado.

The district’s largest minority demographic groups are the two most negatively impacted by Colorado’s attainment gap – Latino (55.5 percent) and African-American students (13.4 percent).

How: DEAN's partnerships develop a persistence and completion strategy to serve students
By collaboratively serving students in DPS, and more specifically, low-income, first-generation and minority students, DEAN is working to improve student outcomes.

DEAN partners with Denver Public Schools, the Auraria Campus (Community College of Denver, Metropolitan State University of Denver and University of Colorado Denver), Emily Griffith Technical College, the City and County of Denver as well as non-profit and corporate partners, to develop an enrollment, persistence and completion strategy to serve our most vulnerable students.

Denver Direct Pathways – the Talent Hub Strategy

Denver is 1 of 17 regions across the country designated as a Talent Hub by Lumina Foundation.

DEAN is leading the Denver Talent Hub strategy: Denver Direct Pathways. This collaborative effort by DEAN partners Denver Public Schools, Community College of Denver, Metropolitan State University of Denver, University of Colorado Denver, Emily Griffith Technical College and others will make a complex college system more easily navigable. By aligning and smoothing out education and training pathways, more students will complete college and gain access to good jobs, providing Denver and Colorado the work-ready talent needed to meet the demands of the 21st century.