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Jeffco (CO) Innovation Program wins CASB Award

Involving Students Made "a World of Difference!"

The power of the InnovateK12 platform was on full display in Colorado recently when the Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB) awarded InnovateK12 member Jeffco (Jefferson County, CO) and the Jeffco Innovation Acceleration Fund program with the 2019 Student Achievement Award. Big congratulations to Chief Strategy Officer Tom McDermott and Innovation Specialist Lisa Summit for their innovative leadership and forward-thinking vision!

The CASB Student Achievement Award is presented annually to only two programs in the State and seeks to recognize exceptional High School and Middle School district programs that are innovative in nature or offer opportunities for each and every student to reach success.

The Jeffco Innovation Acceleration Fund supports staff and students, bringing their innovative learning ideas to life through funding and implementation support. Ideas must align with the Jeffco Strategic Plan, positively and authentically impact student learning, and be sustainable over a period of three years maximum. Students and staff vote on their peers' ideas and winners of the fund will be announced in late 2020.

According to McDermott, "The InnovateK12 platform afforded our system the ability to recognize and support innovative ideas from all roles in the organization. Students, educators, and staff members know that the quality of their ideas and their voices through their votes determine the outcomes of the process." Like Jeffco, thousands of districts across the country are partnering with their foundations with the goal of supporting the district vision, but find that the partnership doesn't always produce a tight alignment and it doesn't necessarily move the district vision forward. McDermott and Summit saw the opportunity to use a crowd-based approach to produce a tighter alignment and stronger ownership of the ideas.

"The crowd-based element of InnovateK12’s approach facilitates strong ownership of innovations selected to receive funding," said McDermott. "The structure and process helps move the idea from individual innovation to a strong coalition of innovators committed to the success of the innovation." One of the innovations that led to Jeffco's success in 2019 was its decision to get students involved in the process. According to McDermott, "This was our third time running an innovation event, but the first time including student ideas and having the student ideas in the mix makes a world of difference!"