The Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce (DMCC), works every day on behalf of our 3,000 members to help put Coloradans to work in great jobs. Colorado’s well-trained, educated and healthy workforce is a key advantage that sets us apart from our competitors in the region and throughout the U.S. and the world. Therefore, fostering a high-quality education system and building a talented, homegrown workforce are key priorities reflected in:
- Our monthly Education Committee meetings, composed by more than 120 local business leaders;
- Our active support for Colorado’s more rigorous standards and assessments as part of the Future Forward Coalition; and,
- Our leadership and advocacy efforts at the State Capitol, in the community, and in the media.
The stakes could not be higher for Colorado. While national high school graduation rates reached an all-time high in 2015, Colorado lags with the 7th lowest graduation rate in the nation at 77 percent. And while roughly three-quarters of our state’s jobs will require some type of post-secondary education or training in just four short years, only around 25 percent of Colorado students are attaining such credentials. Reversing this paradox is key not only to the success of our member companies but also the health of our communities and state economy.
For 10 years, DMCC has actively partnered with the BizCARES network because improving education in Colorado is simply too important for the business community. The BizCARES network reaches more than 500,000 employees in all 64 Colorado counties. This coalition rallies around and advocates for policies and programs that are proven to improve our education system, from ensuring every classroom has a high-quality teacher to supporting high school students in earning industry-recognized credentials. BizCARES members, from Grand Junction to Denver, have contacted legislators, testified at State Board of Education meetings and authored op-eds. Our CEO Kelly Brough and I have taken such actions ourselves. And through these efforts and others, this network has proven to be an effective force for advancing education in our state.
Colorado Succeeds President Scott Laband recently said to me that education, plus leadership, equals the solution to all of society’s greatest challenges, and that, as business leaders, we have the opportunity, obligation, and capacity to be part of this effort. I wholeheartedly agree with this statement; as the ultimate consumers of the talent that our education system produces, it is our duty to be engaged meaningfully.
We know that building a competitive and high-quality education system is critical to helping our state continue to thrive. We also know that the business community plays a critical role in shaping this system and ensuring that students are ready for the workplace they will one day enter. I encourage my peers in this network to take advantage of the expertise, resources, and advocacy opportunities that come with involvement in BizCARES. Through this network, we can continue to move the needle on education in Colorado to create a system that our students need and our members demand.