Every year, the Colorado Community College System (CCCS) finds new ways to meet the needs of students, communities, and industries—and 2023 was no exception. Among many accomplishments, we were proud to launch a zero-cost workforce program, Career Advance Colorado, sign new transfer agreements, and lead convenings on important higher education and workforce topics.
Here are some highlights from the past year:
In partnership with Education Design Lab (EDL), CCCS announced the development of three more “micro-pathways” in green energy and behavioral healthcare, aiming to solve skills gaps in two priority industries for Colorado. Designed with input from learners and employers, CCCS is designing a total of eight micro-pathways.
The State Board for Community Colleges and Occupational Education (SBCCOE) hosted a panel of national experts to discuss promising practices in educational equity and ways CCCS can continue to meet students’ needs.
“Everybody on the board and in our leadership understands the importance of serving all of the population in Colorado,” reflected CCCS Chancellor Joe Garcia.
Leaders from CCCS, the Community College of Aurora, and Amazon celebrated the launch of the new Presidential Scholars Program that aims to empower a new generation of student leaders.
The program provides financial assistance, leadership development, and career mentoring for 20 students over the next two years. The Foundation for Colorado Community Colleges helped secure a $70,000 gift from Amazon to start up the program.
CCCS held its fifth annual Commitment Excellence Awards ceremony, celebrating 54 employees from across the System for their contributions to the overall success of their college, students, and communities.
Among many achievements, awardees helped colleges implement learning management systems, secure housing for students, and forge partnerships with community organizations to provide new learning opportunities for students.
Building on their partnership with CCCS, the Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation awarded three community colleges almost $4 million in grants to expand access to dental hygiene programs in the fastest-growing areas of the states.
“The better the dental health care is, the better healthcare is overall,” said Gov. Polis. “We need to make sure that we have the professionals and support teams in place to meet that demand.”
Chancellor Garcia announced Dr. Kimberly Zant as the sixth president of Otero College. With nearly 20 years of experience in higher education, Dr. Zant is a proven leader in advancing student outcomes, building strong and sustainable institutions, and forging innovative partnerships with community and industry.
CCCS held its first in-person Chancellor’s Summit on Adult Education, an annual convening that brought together hundreds of college and workforce development practitioners across the state. The summit featured three keynote presentations and 20 short sessions on promising practices in the field.
“Adult learners are counting on us to make education and training more accessible, affordable and relevant to their lives,” Chancellor Garcia told attendees.
CCCS announced the launch of Career Advance Colorado, a workforce development initiative that provides free training for in-demand jobs through the state’s 19 community and technical colleges. The program aims to prepare more than 20,000 Coloradans for high-skill careers while responding to the state’s most critical workforce shortages.
“We’re excited to save Coloradans money and train people for good-paying jobs. We’re happy to continue leading the way forward on innovative solutions to our workforce challenges,” said Gov. Jared Polis.
CCCS took center stage at a national summit bringing together federal, state, and higher education leaders to discuss strategies to rapidly train a clean energy workforce.
“When I speak with young people, they don’t just want good careers—they want good careers that actually mean something,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “We need to meet them halfway by providing pathways.”
For their outstanding support of community colleges during the 2023 legislative session, CCCS honored four Colorado lawmakers as Legislators of the Year: Colorado House Speaker Julie McCluskie, Representative Rose Pugliese, and Senators Janet Buckner and Perry Will. The leaders sponsored HB 23-1246, which allocated $38.6 million to establish the Career Advance Colorado program.
Coppin State University joined Texas Southern University and Saint Augustine’s University as transfer destinations in CCCS’s historic Bridge to HBCU program, which guarantees CCCS students admission to Historically Black Colleges and Universities upon successful completion of an associate degree.
“As an open access system, we believe transfer aspirations shouldn’t be limited to geographic boundaries,” said Chancellor Garcia. “We are thrilled to provide our students even more options to pursue their college and career goals.”
With more than $600 billion in federal investments flowing into the advanced industries sector, Colorado stands to gain thousands of jobs. CCCS’ state board hosted a panel with industry experts to understand how colleges can help meet new workforce demands.
Chancellor Joe Garcia announced Dr. Landon Pirius as the tenth president of Red Rocks Community College. With 25 years of experience in higher education, Dr. Pirius has led impactful, statewide initiatives to advance student outcomes, promote equity and inclusion, and forge community and industry partnerships.