Innovation Acceleration Winners

The Innovation Acceleration Fund was introduced at a board meeting not long ago. The funding from this came from reserves. While we were concerned about the spending, we also believe that our staff knows exactly what can be done to improve outcomes for their students. The ideas for these projects all came directly from our education staff and were extraordinary in depth. We are grateful to everyone who made a pitch for this grant, the presentations were phenomenal and we wish there had been an opportunity to fund all of them. Now remember, we do have an opportunity to fund more in the future so sign a petition and get one ASAP!

Tom McDermott should be applauded for putting this together so quickly and incorporating all feedback as well as his in depth communication to everyone involved. Participating in the committee was both moving and inspiring. We are sharing this information with our community because everyone should have a glimpse at how hard our staff is working for our children and how amazing and thoughtful their ideas are. Following is the information from Mr. McDermott with links to presentation information. Our thanks to all who volunteered their time to support this effort and all staff members who applied and put this information together on their own time!


Dear Innovation Acceleration Fund Committee Members,

Thank you for your support of the Innovation Acceleration Fund.  I want to take this opportunity to provide an update on the year 1 recipients.  Additional detail on the Innovation Acceleration Fund process will be provided at the April 9 Board of Education meeting. The recipients of the Innovation Acceleration in its first year are:



Name of Innovation

Stott Elementary

Stott Elementary Innovation Team

Tinker Lab

Golden High School

Jesse Swift

STEAM Makerspace

All High Schools

Dave Kollar

High School Equivalency+ Post-Secondary Accelerator

Health Services

Julie Wilken

School Based Health Centers

Green Mountain Articulation Area

Colleen Owens

GM Articulation Area Academy Program

Wheat Ridge HS & Dakota Ridge HS

Griff Wirth, Jim Jelinek, Josh Cooley

Career Explore

Fletcher Miller

Colleen Dodge

Adapted Daily Living Upgrade

Van Arsdale

Tami Thompson

Mechanical Engineering Leads to Robotic Understandings

North Arvada Middle School

Amanda Summers

North Arvada Middle School’s Wellness & Emotional Health Initiative

All Schools

John McDonald

Safe School Environments

Click here to read a description of the recipient innovations in the applicant’s own words.

I also want to share additional detail regarding our process. I am hopeful that sharing the details of the process will support identifying areas for improvement in the facilitation of an Innovation process moving forward. Applicants have also been provided this information and an opportunity to capture their feedback.

Round 1

104 applications were submitted by the February 9th deadline with a total request for funding of $9.3M. Each application was scored by two committee members and notified of the status of their application on February 16th. Each application was scored against the Jeffco Innovation Acceleration Fund rubric.  Each applicant who scored above a 24 was invited to “pitch” their idea in round 2.  Committee members provided feedback for each applicant. However, given the very quick turnaround time from application closure to notification, the depth of feedback on applications was limited. We have noted this as an area for improvement moving forward.

The members of the Round 1 committee were identified based on their knowledge of the strategic direction aligned with the Jeffco Generations Vision document to facilitate decision-making and application evaluation aligned with strategic priorities.

Round One Committee members were:

Becky Brown

Principal, West Jefferson Middle School

Dawn Odean

Director of Early Childhood Education

Hi Howard

Jeffco Parent, member of District Accountability Committee (DAC)

Ian Stone

Principal, Maple Grove Elementary

Jef Fugita

Ex. Director, Curriculum and Instruction

Karen Quanback

Chief of Schools, Elementary

Kevin Carroll

Chief Student Success Officer

Lisa Summit

TOSA -Education Technology

Marna Messer

Director, Choice Programming

Matt Flores

Chief Academic Officer

Todd Engels

Ex. Director Educator Effectiveness

Tom McDermott

Special Asst. To the Superintendent

Round 2

51 applicants were invited to pitch their ideas. The total monetary ask of those invited to pitch was $6.2M.

In Round 2, the committee consisted of a diverse group of stakeholders including parents, principals, Teachers, community members (members of Strategic Planning Advisory Committee (SPAC) and District Accountability Committee (DAC)), and all applicants invited to pitch were also invited to participate as a member of the Round 2 Committee.

All applicants invited to “pitch” were strong applicants, which made decisions in this round very challenging. To help facilitate these difficult decisions, committee members were grounded in the rubric. However, to avoid multiple applicants receiving the same score using the rubric, the “pitch”  evaluation process also included the use of a fixed amount of points that committee members distributed across the pitches. Applicant scores were then sorted from highest point total to lowest and submitted as the committee’s recommendation for funding. Committee members also had the opportunity to add comments to the recommendation submitted to the Superintendent.

Round 2 Members were:

Bill Bottoms

Strategic Planning Advisory Committee (SPAC) and District Accountability Committee (DAC) member

Bob Putka

Jeffco Teacher (retired)

Corinne Gray

SPAC member, Special Education advocate

David Bell

Director, Human Resources

Dawn Odean

Director, Early Childhood

Greg Jackson

Executive Director, Transportation and fleet services, SPAC member

Heather Waldron

Pathway Designer- Science/STEM

Hi Howard

Jeffco Parent, DAC member

Ian Stone

Principal, Maple Grove Elementary

Jef Fugita

Executive Director, Curriculum and Instruction

Jeff Kirk

Jeffco PTA Board

Jim Early

Jeffco Parent, DAC chair

Karla Hankins

Principal – Mortensen Elementary

Kelly Johnson

SPAC Member

Lori Young

Principal, Colorow Elementary

Marna Messer

Director, Choice Programming

Nicole Stewart

Director, Budget

Peggy Miller

Principal, The Bergens

Sally Kate Tinch

SPAC and DAC Member

Shawna Fritzler

Jeffco Parent, SPAC member and PTA

Suzanne Sundbye

Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA), Math pathways

Tami Thompson

Teacher, Van Arsdale

Tracy Jett

Principal, Mount Carbon

Wendy Woodland

Principal, West Jeff Elementary

Tom McDermott

Help build our Strategic Plan together. Send me your input!

Special Assistant to the Superintendent|Doctoral Resident (Ed.L.D)|