The ElevateAI Program Awarded Grant to Support Young People in Preparing for Jobs in Colorado’s Expansive Tech Industry

The Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) has awarded an Opportunity Now Seed Grant to Support Educators in building AI literacy

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SparkFun’s headquarters is located in Niwot, Colorado, which is just outside of Boulder and about 30 minutes from Denver. Our headquarters is where we ideate, design, and manufacture our boards (we also ship all over the world from this location). Colorado is home to one of the fastest growing tech communities with a mix of large companies (Lockheed Martin, Ball Aerospace, Arrow Electronics…), smaller companies like us, and startups everywhere. In a 2023 report, the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) found that Colorado is expected to add the highest total of net new jobs in tech and that, currently, more than 8% of the state’s workforce is employed by tech companies, which is the 5th highest concentration nationally.

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SparkFun's headquarters in Niwot, CO

To support this community, the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT), is focused on driving future innovation, strengthening the state's economic position, and addressing equity gaps in the workforce. Opportunity Now is a program managed by OEDIT that funds projects that support partnerships of industry, education and training providers to create new talent pathways.

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Alongside the Colorado Education Initiative (CEI), MagicSchool.ai, and the AI Education Project (aiEDU), SparkFun submitted a joint proposal for an Opportunity Now Seed Grant - and, yesterday, it was announced that our submission, ElevateAI, was awarded. We are so very excited and honored to move forward with this impactful project over the next couple years. We are also pleased that several other industry partners will be supporting this project.

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ElevateAI is designed to equip educators with skills to leverage AI in their practice and better prepare students for a future where AI is integral. Given Colorado’s designation as a Quantum Tech Hub, ElevateAI also creates a unique opportunity to explore the integration of quantum computing into K-12 career pathways in partnership with statewide efforts. Core program elements include:

  • Developing a shared vision for competencies, including AI literacy skills
  • Integrating opportunities for students to develop AI literacy and connect learning to career pathways
  • Preparing educators with AI certification programming
  • Supporting school leaders in developing systems to support education-to-industry partnerships
  • Connecting school districts, industry and education training partners to implement a blueprint for AI in education
  • As part of our commitment to this grant, SparkFun will ensure focus on the competencies that students and educators need to be prepared for an AI-future; participate in the statewide AI in Colorado Education Steering Committee; provide mentoring with industry partners; help shape a program for student internships, job matching, and job placement; and provide high-quality STEM materials, such as the Experiential Robotics Platform (XRP).


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