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YOUTH CAREERCONNECT: Obama Announces New $100 Million Grant Program for High Schools

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Successful education models, such as Linked Learning, already implement innovative partnerships between individual schools and businesses and institutions of higher education, making high school more engaging and preparing students for college and a career. “It is time to bring this effective practice to scale,” Wise said.

On November 19, President Obama announced a new $100 million collaboration between the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Education that will provide high school students with education and training that combines rigorous academic and career-focused curriculum with work-based learning opportunities.

The program, called Youth CareerConnect, is aligned with the $300 million high school redesign program that the president announced in his State of the Union address earlier this year. The program is designed to promote reform at the local level by supporting it with federal funding. According to a fact sheet released by the White House, the program will help “scale up evidence-based high school models that will transform the high school experience for America’s youth.” Because they are funded from revenues from the H-1B visa program, Youth CareerConnect grants will not need congressional approval.

In announcing the program to a collection of top global CEOs gathered in Washington, DC, Obama called the idea behind the program—redesigning high schools to give students hands-on training and ensure that they develop the science, technology, engineering, and math skills that they need and employers want—a “good example” of a public-private partnership.

One school fitting this model that Obama has frequently cited, including in his State of the Union address, is P-Tech, an early college high school in Brooklyn that enjoys a collaboration between New York Public Schools and City University of New York and IBM. At P-Tech, students graduate with both a diploma and an associate’s degree in a field related to computers or engineering.

The $100 million allocated for Youth CareerConnect and will permit approximately twenty-five to forty grants, which will be awarded to partnerships among local education agencies, local workforce entities, employers, and institutions of higher educations. Applicants may also involve nonprofits with experience integrating academic and career-focused learning. At a minimum, applicants will also be required to provide a match of 25 percent of the grant award. The application deadline is January 27, 2014. Awards are expected in early 2014 so that programs can get underway in time for the 2014–15 school year.

In a statement, Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia, said the program has “great potential” to reduce the high school dropout rate and revitalize students’ interest in their education by pairing rigorous academic and career-focused curriculum with relevant work-based learning opportunities.

“Successfully stemming the tide of high school dropouts—who number more than 1 million each school year—and ensuring that they graduate prepared for college and a career represents a tremendous economic opportunity,” said Wise, who pointed to data from the Alliance finding that increasing the national high school graduation rate to 90 percent for just one high school class would create as many as 65,700 new jobs and boost the national economy by as much as $10.9 billion.

Wise added that successful education models, such as Linked Learning, already implement innovative partnerships between individual schools and businesses and institutions of higher education, making high school more engaging and preparing students for college and a career. “It is time to bring this effective practice to scale,” Wise said.

More information on Youth CareerConnect is available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/11/19/fact-sheet-youth-careerconnect-grants. Applications for funding are available at http://www.doleta.gov/ycc/.

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