The Denver Education Attainment Network (DEAN) coordinates community-driven and cross-sector collaboration that links education to better jobs for more Colorado learners, especially those who are and have historically been excluded from high-value career pathways.

DEAN works in the space between institutions and organizations to ensure access to and completion of educational experiences that help Colorado’s learners gain the skills, knowledge and connections to prepare them for lifelong success.

As a strategic partner, technical assistance provider, funder and connector, DEAN coordinates cross-institutional and cross-agency work to ensure career-connected learning is not just happening in pockets but prioritized and sustained in and across its partner institutions. DEAN’s value lies in building trusted relationships and connecting the right people to drive outcomes and propel collaboration forward.

In 2022, DEAN will expand its footprint, partnerships, and impact in and beyond Denver, bringing on a new K–12/higher education partnership and framing a statewide policy agenda to better support a learner-centered, workforce-aligned education-to-career system in Colorado.

Learners face many hurdles to reaching their career goals and economic opportunity: identifying the right credentials; accessing credentials that stack; having the option to work and quickly upskill; paying for credits that don’t transfer or apply to their program of study. It is up to the system to change and adapt to the realities of the learner experience, rather than place the burden on learners to decode a complex system.

A critical step in systems change work is to create clear academic and career pathways that span across systems and institutions and link to clear career and workforce outcomes. DEAN’s pathway strategy ensures exposure, experience and acceleration strategies like concurrent enrollment, work-based learning, competency-based learning and stackable certifications – all actions that are leveraged to engage and advance learners on a pathway. Cross-institutional advising and navigation strategies ensure structure and supports along career pathways to better guide and support learners. Through shared data, we can capture the learner experiences along a pathway.

With labor market demand and industry alignment as central, DEAN has developed and is implementing a pathways strategy to improve completion outcomes and workforce opportunities.