In July, El Pomar’s Northwest Regional Council convened for the third time in 2013. Nine months after making a multi-year funding commitment to a more effective three-phase pipeline program to guide middle school students to higher education, the Northwest Council has found itself not only celebrating accomplishments, but also facing new opportunities for growth.
Earlier this year, the Northwest Regional Council facilitated a meeting between stakeholders from Colorado Mesa University, Western Colorado Community College, Colorado Mountain College, and Colorado Northwestern Community College to discuss the implementation of summer camps that will provide middle school and high school students an opportunity to learn new skills and expand their perceptions of education. A short six months later, the first round of summer camps are complete, and over 220 youth participated.
In its inaugural year, the four academic institutions hosted nine different summer camps that provided insight and hands-on training in seven different sectors with topics including, auto mechanics, culinary arts, training in multimedia, health services and careers, creative writing, and science and energy workshops.
Pipeline Scholarships are also part of the program to further encourage students to pursue higher education Scholarships will be offered to students who both participated in one of the summer camps and who will enroll in one of the four academic institutions in northwest Colorado.
Moving forward the Council has begun to discuss their approach toward building out the pipeline to higher education in the region. In a recent meeting, the Council discussed the question: “How can we keep students engaged and aware of the opportunities that exist for higher education through the early high school years?”
The Council’s answer to this question will continue to develop as information becomes available through research and the development of an inventory of regional assets. Next steps will include identifying youth-serving organizations, particularly between the ages of 12 – 14 years of age. As this project is still in its first year, the Council and the four partnering institutions will continue to discuss ways to improve, a process for expansion, and establishing a lasting educational pipeline that will inspire and motivate students to pursue higher education.