December 3, 2023


education gives you strength

CIVICA Colorado, a Milliken charter school, scheduled to open in August 2021

A new charter school is scheduled to open in Milliken in 20201, and the model for the future CIVICA Colorado is expected to fit the profile of the Johnstown and Milliken communities, according to one of the school founders.

CIVICA is a charter school authorized in the Johnstown-Milliken School District.

“Everything we do is character-driven,” said Sheena McOuat, who developed CIVICA Colorado with Craig Horton, a retired Fort Collins police officer who founded Liberty Common Charter School. “The students will pursue industry certification and internships so on graduation day, they can go to college or to a job or to the military.”

CIVICA Colorado charter school founding team
The founding team members of CIVICA Colorado, a charter school scheduled to open in Milliken in August 2021. From left: Craig Horton, Rex Beall, principal Sheena McOuat, Carlos Alvarez, Stephanie Podtburg and Noland Eastin. (Photo courtesy: Craig Horton).

McOuat, now the CIVICA principal, has 19 years in education serving in a variety of roles including work the Weld RE-5J School District in Milliken according to her biography on CIVICA website. Horton works for Academica, a Miami-based company that provide business services for charter schools. Horton is an executive director of Academica Colorado.

CIVICA Colorado College and Career Academies is a tuition-free, public combined middle and high school with opening date of August 2021. The school will open with 150 students in sixth through ninth grades. At full capacity, in about four years, CIVICA will be a 600-student school with the addition of grades 10-12.

Enrollment opened in early September and is available on the school website at

The school will be located on approximately nine acres next to Thompson River Parks and Recreation in Milliken. CIVICA expects to break ground in January on its first building, an 8,500-square foot all-purpose space with a gymnasium and cafeteria. CIVICA will also put up a temporary classroom building with multiple classrooms under one roof in time for opening day.

Horton said Milliken-based contractor Hall-Irwin Corporation donated the land to CIVICA, and the school is receiving private donations to help with funding. CIVICA also received a $990,000 Charter Schools Program grant from the Colorado Department of Education according to a news release.

Horton described CIVICA as a career technical school, and it will open with three academies: health services, northern Colorado industry and business information systems. McOuat said by 10th grade, students will be required to choose an academy and then pursue a pathway within the academy, leading them to internships and earning industry certification.

CIVICA Colorado charter school
An advanced site plan for CIVICA Colorado, a grade 6-12 charter school opening in Milliken in August 2021. The school will open with 150 students in grades 6-9 before expanding over the next several years to a sixth through 12th-grade school with approximately 600 students. (Photo courtesy: Craig Horton).

Horton said every student will be required to graduate with an industry-recognized certificate.

“The idea is we want to prepare kids to get out of their parents’ basements when they get out of high school,” he said. “We want them to be prepared to support themselves, to be prepared for college or to live lives in a trade.”

CIVICA Colorado is modeled after the City of Hialeah Education Academy (COHEA), a career and collegiate academy for students in grades 6-12 in Hialeah, Florida, near Miami. COHEA principal Carlos Alvarez was among the school’s leaders when it opened in 2008. COHEA has six academies with another expected to be added this academic year and a 99% graduation rate, according to the school website.

Alvarez is listed as one of the founding team members of CIVICA Colorado along with Horton, McOuat, Rex Beall, Stephanie Podtburg and and Noland Eastin.

Horton said the name CIVICA comes from the education foundation, or network, Alvarez established to replicate the COHEA model. CIVICA Colorado is part of the network and another school, CIVICA Nevada in North Las Vegas, will also open next year. The CIVICA network is a non-profit organization and the affiliated schools will be non profits, according to the CIVICA Colorado website.

In a video on the CIVICA Nevada website, Alvarez said the school’s pathways will be driven by public service academies and dual-enrollment opportunities with local colleges to allow students to earn college credit.

The academies at COHEA in Florida include criminal justice, firefighting and allied health professionals. COHEA also has an academy for advanced academics, mass communications. A nursing academy is scheduled to be added this year.

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