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ECMC Foundation Pitch Competition Winners Aim to Transform Postsecondary Career and Technical Education

Researchers, Journalists and Community College Professionals Will Use Funding to Spur Change and Advance the Field

October 27, 2022

LOS ANGELES―Five projects designed to build opportunities for students to succeed in postsecondary career and technical education (CTE) received recognition and earned a cash award on October 20, 2022 during a pitch competition hosted by ECMC Foundation. The Foundation awarded funding to the winners at the conclusion of its CTE Leadership Collaborative Convening in Nashville, Tenn.

The CTE Leadership Collaborative Convening annually brings together experts from a variety of disciplines each year to build community, increase knowledge, introduce opportunities and explore external partnerships in the field of postsecondary CTE. This year’s fourth CTE Leadership Collaborative Convening attracted more than 150 professionals from across the country.

A $20 million, seven-year initiative, the CTE Leadership Collaborative engages diverse perspectives and equips postsecondary CTE leaders with the tools, resources and skills needed to advance the field.

“We know those working in CTE have a strong need for collaboration across sectors,” said ECMC Foundation Program Officer Anna Fontus. “We have developed a unique program for CTE faculty and administrators, journalists, human resources professionals, employers and state leaders to share new ideas and learn from each other.”

After concluding the CTE Leadership Collaborative Convening with a lightning-round pitch competition, members of the audience voted for their favorite project designed to advance the field of CTE.

First-place winner Chandra Bozelko received $10,000 to engage leading beauty product manufacturers in partnerships with correctional facilities to help justice-involved women along career pathways in the beauty industry. Bozelko, who wrote a newspaper column and published a book while incarcerated, is a journalist and thought leader on issues related to criminal justice reform.

Second-place winner Shelsi Barber-Carter received $7,500 to implement a project aimed at supporting student parents in rural communities through CTE programs. Barber-Carter is the analytical and programming coordinator of career and technical education at Louisiana Community and Technical College System.

The other winning projects are:

  • CTE for Disabled Students by Larisa Karr, Institute for Citizens and Scholars: This project will collect testimonials that represent the experiences of disabled CTE students, who often drop out of CTE programs. The goal is to create a resource to draw attention to these experiences and challenges on a statewide and national scale.

  • Perceptions of High School Counselors and Community College Advisors toward CTE by Eric Sewell, ACTE: This project will focus on understanding the correlation between high school and community college counselors and postsecondary CTE enrollments in Alabama, which has 374 secondary schools and 24 technical colleges. The goal is to conduct actionable research to inform best practices for those in advising roles.

  • Professional Certificates in Degrees by Nichole Jackson and Christos Giannoulis, Strategic Data Project at Harvard University: This project will layer degree programs with professional certificates intermittently throughout the course sequence. The goal is to boost the earnings potential and industry flexibility for program completers.

ECMC Foundation President Peter J. Taylor served as one of the pitch competition judges.

“All of these projects are worth pursuing and are deserving of our support,” Taylor said. “As a funder that fuels evidence-based innovation, ECMC Foundation is willing to take risks to find the next big idea in career and technical education. Congratulations to all of the winners.”


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