Skip to Content

ECMC Foundation CTE Leadership Collaborative Pitch Competition Winners Explore Innovative Solutions to Challenges in Postsecondary CTE

Funding awarded to ECMC Foundation Fellows who envision better training programs, accessibility and awareness of postsecondary CTE programs to catalyze change in the field.

February 16, 2024

February 16, 2024 ECMC Foundation’s CTE Leadership Collaborative (LC) annual Pitch Competition completed at the end of 2023 with the program’s largest competition to date. Eight ECMC Foundation Fellows (Fellows) earned recognition and cash awards for pitching their ideas for innovation in the field of postsecondary CTE. The competition was, for the first time, virtual in 2023, with voting open to the LC community, who watched participants’ recorded pitches and voted for their favorites. A record $32,500 was distributed to the pitchers, who were selected to compete based on the innovation, community and systemic change elements described in their pitches.

“Each member of the LC community brings their own unique perspective and background to the fellowship program,” said ECMC Foundation Program Officer Anna Fontus. “The ideas presented at this year’s Pitch Competition represent the diversity, passion and innovation of the LC, a community that is dedicated to learning from each other and problem-solving together, as a collective, to improve student success and make real and important change. Congratulations to all of the Pitch Competition winners, and thank you for sharing your ideas!”

First-place winner, Advance CTE Fellow Dimitria Harding, received $10,000 for “Here’s Your Keys, Good Luck,” for her pitch to launch a streamlined training program that will equip technical experts who lack teaching experience with the necessary tools to apply their technical knowledge to the classroom, yielding improved instructor retention, enhanced student outcomes and institutional efficiency.

Chandra Bozelko, Institute for Citizenship & Scholars Fellow, won second place, receiving $7,500 for “CTE Spells Freedom,” for her pitch to launch an initiative to train incarcerated men at two Alabama correctional facilities in CTE building trades (CTEBT). The individuals in the program will be trained to install central air conditioning in the two prisons, creating a safer environment in the facilities as well as opportunities for the trainees to receive expedited parole hearings and supervised release into the community, where they will enter an apprenticeship program, leading to career opportunities, competitive pay and benefits.

The other competitors were all awarded $2,500 each:

Tribal Nations, Perkins V Funding, and Administrative Burden
Gresham Collom and Misti Jeffers (North Carolina State University)
This pitch seeks to support Tribal Nations and Tribal Colleges in creating strategies to decrease administrative burden hurdles in accessing grant funding for application-based postsecondary CTE programs.

Sam Mabini Young (North Carolina State University)
This pitch will invite businesses to participate in a region-wide “Best of CTE Champions” competition, encouraging companies to showcase their CTE programs. It will also serve to increase public awareness of the benefits of engaging in quality CTE programs and help historically unengaged small or minority-owned businesses recognize and seek understanding of these programs.

Regional Advisory Committee: Increasing Work Based Learning Opportunities for Underserved Populations
Carla Arciniega (ACTE) and Justin Chin (Advance CTE)
This pitch will develop a new and innovative framework for regional advisory committees to engage partners from different sectors of industry to identify gaps and opportunities in CTE programs and ensure all students have equitable access to work-based learning opportunities, careers and competitive wages.

The Table Collective
Nzingha Williams (ACTE and North Carolina State University)
This pitch will launch a community event that invites parents from underprivileged sectors to interact with experts on the topics of education and workforce development. The goal is to equip parents in helping their children navigate education and the workforce, which will, in turn, lead to improved economic mobility.

There's an App for That!: Providing Timely Information About Labor Market Needs and Career Exploration to Improve Student Success and Socioeconomic Mobility
Nataya Lewis (Harvard Strategic Data Project)
This pitch will go toward the development and maintenance of an app which provides career assessments to match personality, interests and workforce need, as well as high-level five-year plans for users to follow that will map out programs of study, internship and volunteer requirements and information about estimated salary potential. 

Improving Outcomes in Community College Immigrant Professional Retraining Programs
David Tobenkin (Institute for Citizens & Scholars)
This pitch will fund journalistic research into the ways in which community colleges can effectively aid immigrants in the United States to more easily pursue the professions in which they have been trained abroad by improving professional retraining programs on a local and national level.

The LC brings together diverse perspectives and equips postsecondary CTE leaders with the tools, resources and skills needed to advance the field.

Back to News