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Fact Sheet: Youth CareerConnect

April 07, 2014

Integrating Education and Career Skills to Build America's Workforce

Too few of America's students are meaningfully engaged in their academic experience while in high school, and many high school graduates lack exposure to learning that links their studies in school to future college and career pathways - especially in the critically important fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). President Obama has called for a comprehensive effort to rethink the high school experience for America's youth, challenging schools to scale up innovative models that personalize teaching and learning so that students stay on track to graduate with the knowledge and skills they'll need to succeed in college and in careers.  

President Obama has made clear that he is committed to making 2014 a year of action by taking steps - both with Congress and on his own - to expand opportunity for all Americans. As part of achieving the President's vision to prepare all students for success in post-secondary education and in a competitive workforce, the U.S. Department of Labor, in collaboration with the Department of Education, has established Youth CareerConnect grant. This initiative encourages America's school districts, institutions of higher education, the workforce investment system, and their partners to integrate rigorous educational standards with work experiences and skills in ways that enhance instruction and deliver real-world learning opportunities for students. Across the country, 24 Youth CareerConnect awards will provide $107 million to local partnerships of local education agencies, workforce investment boards, institutions of higher education and employer partners as they re-design the teaching and learning experience for youth to more fully prepare them with the knowledge, skills, and industry-relevant education needed to get on the pathway to a successful career, including postsecondary education or registered apprenticeship.

Youth CareerConnect schools will strengthen America's talent pipeline by supporting stronger high school, postsecondary, workforce investment system, and employer partnerships that deliver:

•    Robust Employer Engagement & Work-Based Learning: Youth CareerConnect awards will provide students with the education and training that combines rigorous academic and career-focused curriculum to increase students' employability skills. Employer partners will provide work-based learning, job-shadowing, and mentoring opportunities to ensure students' learning is relevant.

•    A Focus on High-Demand Industries, Including STEM: Youth CareerConnect awards will create a pathway for students to enter high-demand industries such as information technology, healthcare, and other STEM-related and manufacturing fields. Grantees will ensure recruitment and retention of underrepresented groups including girls and minorities to expand the talent pool for these high-demand occupations.

•    Integration of Post-secondary Education and Training: Youth CareerConnect awards will enable high school students to participate in education and training that leads to credit toward a post-secondary degree or certificate and an industry recognized credential, where appropriate.

Recipients of Today's CareerConnect (YCC) Grants

Today, President Obama will visit Bladensburg High School, one of three high schools included in the Prince George's County - Youth CareerConnect Program (PGC-YCCP) which is being awarded $7 million. Bladensburg offers several career academies with high school curricula aligned with college-level entrance requirements for Maryland's state university system. Through a collaborative effort with community partners, the school will expand the capacity of its Health & Biosciences Academy to better prepare more students for one of the region's highest growth industries. Students at Bladensburg who concentrate in health professions will be able to earn industry-recognized certifications in the fields of nursing and pharmacy; biomedical students will earn college credit from the University of Maryland Baltimore County and the Rochester Institute of Technology. Through the YCC grant program, students will have access to individualized career and college counseling designed to improve the attainment of industry-recognized credentials and preparation for college-level course work. Students will also have the ability to receive postsecondary credit while still in high school and will have access to paid work experiences with employer partners such as Lockheed Martin. Overall, the PGC-YCCP will help prepare 2,500 graduates at Bladensburg and other schools across the county to succeed academically and graduate career-ready in the high-demand fields of information technology and health care.

Additional Youth CareerConnect (YCC) Grant recipients include the following:

•    The Los Angeles Unified School District is receiving a $7 million grant to build out new career academies in six high schools that will focus on healthcare, biotechnology, and other technology-related industries. The program is backed by funding from the Irvine Foundation. The United Way of Greater Los Angeles, the workforce investment system, and the Chamber of Commerce will help provide work-based learning opportunities to students, including 10,000 student summer internships.

•    The New York City Department of Education is receiving a nearly $7 million grant to fund two new early college high schools similar to IBM PTECH models that offer associate's degrees while still in in high school. The grant will alsoexpand diesel mechanic registered apprenticeship to opportunity youth andcreate a dental hygienist apprenticeship in partnership with the Consortium for Worker Education and modify 10 career and technical education programs to offer college credit and counseling.

•    Clinton, South Carolina, is receiving a $6.8 million grant to reshape three high schools to prepare students for skilled jobs in computer science and engineering. Each school will restructure its instructional calendar to expand individual learning time, work with corporate partners to design project-based learning experiences modeled on real-world challenges, and align curricula with Piedmont Technical College and Midlands Technical College so students can earn postsecondary credits and credentials before graduating.

•    The Metropolitan School District of Pike Township in Indianapolis is receiving a $7 million grant to expand its career academies in advanced manufacturing and logistics, working in partnership with Conexus, an advanced manufacturing collaborative, and EmployIndy to provide work-based learning opportunities. The grantee will also expand STEM academies, working with the National Society of Black Engineers, Women in Technology, and the Indiana Girls Collaborative to ensure these programs are resulting in a more diverse STEM workforce.

•    Jobs for the Future is receiving a $4.9 million grant to expand and implement rigorous and engaging career pathway models that take young people from 9th grade through industry credentials and an associate's degree in high demand fields. The grant will fund pathways in three regions across Massachusetts, focusing on information technology, advanced manufacturing, and health care.

•    The Denver School District is also receiving received nearly $7 million to create and expand STEM pathways in eight schools. Students will participate in a paid internship or job shadow and complete a capstone project that demonstrates how they applied the skills and knowledge learned in the classroom to their workplace-based learning experience. Denver will also work with workforce investment partners to provide career fairs and summer industry academies.

Outside Commitments to Support the Youth CareerConnect Model

•    Website for Information-sharing about CareerConnect Model Ideas: Applicants will be invited to send their applications to a web site to share information on ideas for redesigning high schools in ways that build and strengthens a greater connection to work and careers - providing additional opportunities for outside funders to make new investments in these models and identify new partners. Hosted by the National Career Academy Coalition and College and Career Academy Support Network and created with funding from PG&E, this website will provide information on both funded and non-funded CareerConnect applications and it will allow interested parties to view applications by industry, occupation, geography, and other descriptors. Organizations committed to using the website to foster progress in redesigning high schools include the Rockefeller Foundation, IBM Foundation, Irvine Foundation, and the National Academy Foundation.

•    Commitments by the Irvine Foundation to Provide Additional Funding to California Winners: Following up on their commitment made for the White House's College Opportunity Summit in January, the Irvine Foundation is providing additional $1.5 million to the funded California applications from Los Angeles and the East San Gabriel Valley Regional Occupational Program. The Irvine Foundation is also willing to commit additional funding for any joint efforts among foundations to support a learning community across funded applications.

PG&E Commitment to Create Two New Energy Academies: In addition to committing to support the website development, PG&E is creating two new energy academies, one with Arroyo Grande High School, and another with a San Francisco Bay Area school with which they are partnering this year. PG&E will also provide a six-week paid, work-based, learning opportunity for 60-100 students to prepare them for a career in the energy and utility industry. This is a step on their path to investing $1 million in high school redesign efforts by 2016 and increasing the number of New Energy Academy programs by 50 percent, as committed to in the White House college opportunity summit.

Building on Progress

President Obama has encouraged all Americans to commit at least one year to higher education or career training and has set the ambitious goal that America will have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020. Yet today, nearly one in in five students in America fails to graduate from high school on time and many of the students who graduate have not been adequately prepared to succeed in college and the workforce. Today's announcement of the Youth CareerConnect grant recognizes that many local districts and school leaders, as well as many of their national and local workforce partners, have been working together to provide these workplace relevant opportunities for students for quite some time, and it builds off of the collective experiences of these local partnerships. Further, this program complements additional proposals in the President's 2015 budget to ensure that all high school students graduate ready for college and career success and to help America once again lead the world in college attainment:

•    High School Redesign ($150 million). The President's budget supports a new competition at the U.S. Department of Education to support school districts and their partners as they transform high schools in innovative ways that better prepare students for college and career success. The new program will ensure that all students graduate from high school with college credit and career-related experiences or competencies, obtained through project or problem-based learning, real-world challenges, and organized internships and mentorships. Under this program, grantees would work to: (1) align academic content and instructional practices more closely with postsecondary education and careers; (2) personalize learning opportunities to support the educational needs and interests of students; (3) provide academic and wrap-around support services for those students who need them; (4) make available high-quality career and college exploration and counseling options for students after high school graduation; (5) offer multiple opportunities to earn postsecondary credit while still in high school; and (6) strategically use learning time in more meaningful ways, such as through technology, a redesigned school day or calendar, or competency-based progressions.

Reauthorized Perkins Career and Technical Education program ($1.1 billion). The President's budget also supports a reauthorized Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act The Administration blueprint for Perkins reauthorization proposal would strengthen alignment among secondary and postsecondary CTE programs and business and industry; create a better accountability system for improving academic outcomes, technical skills, and employability outcomes; and provide competitive funding to promote innovation and reform in CTE.

Full List of CareerConnect Grant Recipients

Pima County, Tucson, AZ, $5,351,690

East San Gabriel Valley Regional Occupational Program, West Covina, CA $4,499,251

Los Angeles Unified School District, Los Angeles, CA $7,000,000

School District No. 1 in the City and County of Denver, Denver, CO $6,999,980

Putnam County Board of Education, Eatonton, GA $2,418,343

Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission, Postville, IA $2,784,360

Manufacturing Renaissance, Chicago, IL $2,670,909

Metropolitan School District of Pike Township, Indianapolis, IN  $7,000,000

Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana, Kokomo, IN $3,273,878

Kentucky Educational Development Corporation, Ashland, KY $5,520,019

Jobs for the Future, Inc., Boston, MA $4,867,815

Prince George`s County Economic Development Corporation, Largo, MD $7,000,000

Independent School District 196, Rosemount, MN $2,990,026

Independent School District #625, St. Paul, MN $3,680,658

Anson County Schools, Wadesboro, NC $2,247,373

Westside Community Schools, Omaha, NE $2,647,212

Board of Education, Buffalo NY, Buffalo, NY $3,898,700

New York City Department of Education, New York, NY $6,999,601

Toledo Public Schools, Toledo, OH $3,824,281

Academia de Directores Medicos de Puerto Rico, Inc., San Juan, PR $2,842,834

Laurens County School District 56, Clinton, SC $6,890,232

Bradley County School District, Cleveland, TN $4,499,121

Colorado City Independent School District, Colorado City, TX $3,482,704

Galveston Independent School District, Galveston, TX $3,975,000

Barack Obama, Fact Sheet: Youth CareerConnect Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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