Colorado Education Initiative Releases New Strategy Document

By Rebecca F. Holmes

Colorado Education Initiative (CEI) is proud to be celebrating a decade of partnering with, and learning alongside, Colorado’s K-12 public schools. Along the way, we’ve uncovered opportunities for innovation, made connections locally and nationally, and built strong relationships that have turned into trusted partnerships. We’ve also learned a great deal about complex system change and the role CEI must play to support the field in moving beyond proof points to lasting, statewide change. Many of you have informed and pushed this thinking, and I am eager to share our response.

As CEI embarks on our next chapter, our work is grounded in a new strategy (download our PDF here) and we have identified immediate priorities that both advance the outcomes all students need and serve as entry points for districts looking to engage in significant system change. As a strategic partner to the Colorado Department of Education, CEI plays many unique roles across the state. Moving forward, you’ll see us focus on three of those roles – implementation expert, innovation thought leader, and statewide convener.

It’s a privilege – one we don’t take for granted – to work alongside the passionate and committed teachers and leaders in Colorado. Early this year I sat with dozens of these CEI partners and listened to stories about how CEI had supported them over the last decade. Interestingly, what most stood out was not our support for instructional practice, school leadership, or climate and culture. What I heard repeatedly, and couldn’t ignore, was that CEI had shifted mindsets – we had reminded teachers of their inspiration, had empowered school and system leaders to redefine their role as change agents, and had helped young people step into roles as owners of their learning. Systems change starts with people. Therefore, mindsets matter and empathy and vulnerability are prerequisites for engaging in school and system redesign.

As a proud Colorado native, I value the way we frequently take the national stage as a state with an innovative, entrepreneurial spirit that constantly adapts and transforms in response to global trends. The pace of change is accelerating and changing the way we live, work, learn, and prepare for what’s ahead. However, our schools are often left behind. We see, time and time again, Colorado’s most innovative teachers and educational leaders swimming upstream in a calcified system designed for another era. NOW is the time to call on that unique Colorado spirit to rethink and redesign how we approach school and how we support and connect the people doing this work on the ground every day.

In our new strategy, you will see clarified priorities, a renewed commitment to systems change and equity, and a more intentional effort to scale what works. However, our mission to accelerate improvement and innovation in Colorado’s schools has not changed, and we still hold a vision in which every student is prepared to take on the challenges of today and tomorrow. We’ve created a new logo as a symbol of our direction and the opportunities ahead. We are excited to share our new strategy and hope you will join us on this journey.

Our door is always open.

Rebecca F. Holmes is President and Chief Executive Officer of Colorado Education Initiative.

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