Providing individualized support for students with unique needs in reaching their college and/or career goals


Alternative Cooperative Education or ACEConnect supports students with unique needs — such as those with disabilities, English learners, those in foster care and teen parents — in achieving their college and/or career goals. ACEConnect provides individualized support to students as they explore any of the nine career fields offered by DPS CareerConnect in its school-based and work-based learning opportunities. CareerConnect partners with DPS’s Division of Student Equity & Opportunity to ensure options for effective career and college preparation are available and accessible to ALL students.

Sample Classes with ACEConnect

This course introduces students to the importance of working. Career Discovery guides students through a career exploration process which includes individual work preferences, aptitudes, skills and learning styles. Students will also investigate the training and educational requirements for their chosen career field. Finally, students will learn how to become a successful employee.

Building on the previous Career Discovery course, this class is intended to familiarize students with workplace issues beyond day-to-day responsibilities. Students will learn customer service, conflict resolution and disability disclosure and explore how to be a contributing citizen beyond the role of worker. Students will also develop financial awareness through class discussions and practice of personal budgeting, car and cell phone purchase, and checking and savings accounts.

Building on the previous Career Navigate course, this class will help students achieve their postsecondary goals using instruction that addresses career development, career preparation and options for postsecondary education through universities, community colleges, technical colleges and professional certification programs. This class will also incorporate application of academic skills, as well as technical skill development by supporting training plans in work experience courses.

Building on the previous Career Engage course, this class focuses on preparing students for their transition from high school to the adult roles and opportunities in employment, postsecondary education or both. Students will also develop skills necessary to independently navigate adult roles and responsibilities, have financial literacy and develop their own vision for how they will be an engaged and contributing member of their own community. This will be accomplished through interactive activities, community-based experiences and classroom activities. A capstone work experience project in their chosen industry is a requirement of the course.

These courses are designed to prepare students with special needs to be skillful, self-determined, successful members of the workforce and their community. Students must complete or be concurrently enrolled in a Career Readiness course (listed above) before being able to enroll in a Work-Based Learning Course.

Students will earn credit for paid employment, unpaid work experience, service learning, internships, extended job observations/shadows, apprenticeship and other related training.

Options include:

  • WBL: In-School (work at your school’s student-run business, like a coffee cart or a print shop)
  • WBL: Community (paid or unpaid employment, service learning)
  • WBL: Intentional Career Path (internships or apprenticeships in your career area of interest)

This course serves as an application of financial literacy, management of business and entrepreneurship. Students will understand and practice basic strategies to develop a business plan and organize and manage a business venture; accounting methodologies, budgeting and bookkeeping procedures customer service, team building, and supervisory skills; and business and community networking strategies. They will become familiar with ownership and management structures and leadership styles. 

College-curious and college-bound students with IEPs and/or 504 plans will travel to the Auraria Campus to learn about self-advocacy, financial aid and campus living.  Students will experience the college orientation application process and learn how to choose classes in addition to learning about and accessing campus resources such as assistive technology and resource centers.

Note: CareerConnect classes may vary by school.

Career Exploration & Internship Programming

Students across the districts with IEPs are encouraged to participate in CareerX events, highlighting entry-level jobs in high growth, in-demand sectors across the Denver Metro Area. 

Examples of past events include:

  • Buckley Air Force Base
  • Women in Work Day
  • Sports & Recreation Day
  • Denver 911
  • Creative Careers Day

High school juniors and seniors with IEPs who have defined career goals are invited to apply for the ACEConnect CareerEngage Internship. This paid internship opportunity provides students with hands-on experience in their career field of interest over the course of a semester. They have the opportunity to earn up to $1,000 and earn credit towards graduation while they work.