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Innovation, Belonging and the Future of Postsecondary CTE

By Anna Fontus, Program Officer

December 13, 2023

Attendees laughing at the 2023 Career and Technical Education (CTE) Leadership Collaborative Convening

The CTE Leadership Collaborative (LC) was built in 2018 to foster community and connection among the next generation of postsecondary CTE leaders representing a variety of disciplines, geographies, approaches and perspectives. Since then, the CTE LC community has grown exponentially in size. Beginning with two fellowship programs serving 34 ECMC Foundation Fellows (Fellows), the program now includes six fellowship programs supporting more than 300 researchers, CTE practitioners, data analysts, human resource professionals, journalists and government officials. That’s 300 individuals; 300 unique perspectives; 300 distinct innovations in the field–all working toward the shared goal of improving postsecondary CTE. 

The annual CTE LC Convening is a unique opportunity for the CTE LC community to learn and innovate together as a collective making real and important change. Last year’s event (2022) marked the first time all six fellowship programs were represented at the Convening; this year, over 160 Fellows traveled from across the country to Denver, Colorado, where we had our highest attendance yet. 

The focus of this year’s convening centered on building a sustainable culture of belonging and student success for all demographics. Participants explored the ways in which diversity, access and belonging can be improved in postsecondary CTE by taking a closer look at topics such as focusing on accessibility in apprenticeships and training programs; enhancing programs for students with intellectual disabilities; leveraging FAFSA reforms to improve opportunities for students; and ensuring postsecondary CTE resonates with employers. ECMC Foundation’s new president, Jacob Fraire, gave opening remarks about the central role of community colleges in facilitating opportunity for students, and Georgetown University Research Professor and Chief Economist Dr. Nicole Smith delivered a keynote speech that described how education impacts socioeconomic factors in intergenerational mobility. 

With an eye towards belonging and accessibility, participants attended workshops, plenary and action learning sessions on the challenges and opportunities in postsecondary CTE as well as discussions around policy and funding. Guests enjoyed ample networking time to reconnect and build new relationships within and beyond their fellowship programs.

In response to feedback from previous convenings, new this year was the launch of the Fellow Showcase, a platform for Fellows to share their work with the wider CTE LC community, spark new ideas and promote exciting opportunities for innovation, connection and collaboration among Fellows. Attendees had the chance to participate in a site visit to the Community College of Aurora, an institution known for leading reforms to advance student success and recognized by the White House for its efforts to connect education to industry. This accolade is not surprising, considering the majority of the college’s programs center on postsecondary CTE!

In this year’s post-event survey, attendees had the following to say about the CTE Leadership Collaborative Convening: 

“My main comment is: ‘Thank you.’”  

“I really do enjoy the yearly Convening and believe it provides us with the opportunity to spend a couple days reconnecting with Fellows and thinking through new ideas. I had a wonderful time and hope the Convening continues for years to come.”

“All sessions were engaging, informative, and energizing!”

“Very useful, very engaging. Forced me out of my comfort zone to interact and engage with others!”

We look forward to convening again next year with our passionate, dedicated, innovative community of ECMC Foundation Fellows working as postsecondary CTE changemakers.


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