College Affordability Act Released

October 16th, 2019

On October 15, the House Committee on Education and Labor introduced the College Affordability Act (H.R. 4674), the House Democrats’ long-awaited legislation to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA).

Some of the major initiatives of the bill include:

  • Creating a federal-state funding partnership to incentivize states to make community college tuition-free;
  • Increasing the value and funding of Pell Grants;
  • Simplifying the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA); 
  • Repealing the ban on Pell Grants for incarcerated students;
  • Codifying restrictions on federal funds used for for-profit institutions that had been put in place by the Obama Administration;
  • Repealing the student unit record data ban and creating a new postsecondary student data system;
  • Expanding Pell Grant eligibility to certain short-term credential programs; and
  • Creating additional funds for postsecondary Perkins CTE programs, including tribally controlled postsecondary CTE institutions.

Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) intends this to be a comprehensive reauthorization, in contrast to the recent “mini” HEA reauthorization proposal, The Student Aid Improvement Act, introduced by Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Chair Lamar Alexander (R-TN).

Advance CTE staff will continue to monitor changing developments with this proposal and related legislation. Advance CTE’s full recommendations for HEA reauthorization can be found here

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate and Sam Dunietz, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

New Hampshire Welcomes Eric Frauwirth to State CTE Helm

October 16th, 2019

Like many other leaders in CTE, Eric Frauwirth’s journey to his current role overseeing New Hampshire’s CTE program is truly unique. Originally from Massachusetts, Eric took what he describes as the ‘grand tour’ through CTE — traveling around the country teaching at the high school and postsecondary levels, then returning to Massachusetts to serve as the dean of CTE and business at a local community college. 

Eric sees his new role as an opportunity to update New Hampshire’s CTE system and make changes that will have lasting impacts. To accomplish this, Eric has been everything but a stranger to innovative ideas.

“Absolutely everything is on the table,” he said. 

One of Eric’s main priorities is to improve the way in which New Hampshire delivers CTE to better provide access and equity to students across the state. The state will be embarking on an effort to identify all possible delivery models – in addition to the current shared time centers – to provide more CTE programs to more learners. 

“We’re considering taking some of our non-lab CTEs — accounting, business, marketing — and instead of offering one of the courses at a regional center, we offer it at the five comprehensive high schools in the region. This would allow more students to be eligible while also freeing up space at the CTE centers to create more room for labs.” New Hampshire also recently received a $46 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to expand charter schools and Eric is considering how they might fit into the new CTE puzzle.

Fortunately for Eric, the state’s education commissioner is not only supportive of CTE but also is an out-of-the-box thinker who is willing to let Eric’s team be creative. For example, the CTE office is planning to purchase an RV, with the goal of converting it to a mobile classroom to travel around the state to build exposure and access to CTE. The RV will be equipped to carry out experiments as well as highlight the many programs in the different regions of the state. 

Eric’s team took this idea a few steps further by making it a competition among the CTE programs to design the mobile classroom’s wrap, using the theme “I am CTE.” CTE students will also paint the RV once the design is selected. The winners will get to see their work travel all across the state promoting CTE.

“We brought it to the commissioner and we expected the two outcomes to be either he throws us out of his office or he was going to love it. The first sentence out of his mouth was ‘can I drive it’.”


Student Leaders On Capitol Hill, Calls for Doubling the Investment in CTE

October 10th, 2019

This past month, hundreds of student leaders came to Washington D.C. for SkillsUSA’s Washington Leadership Training Institute (WLTI) and the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America’s (FCCLA) Capitol Leadership training. Both programs offer training and leadership development activities for youth Career and Technical Student Organization (CTSO) leaders.

SkillsUSA hosted over 550 students and advisors from 29 states at the WLTI. This year’s conference included training on personal and workplace skills, a panel discussion about effective legislative visits with experts from Capitol Hill, and a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery. FCCLA’s annual Capitol Leadership training also provided students an opportunity to share their Career Technical Education (CTE) experiences with elected officials, while also developing their communication and collaborative skills.

Advance CTE’s Policy Fellow, Jade Richards, spoke with both groups of students and provided an overview of CTE funding at the national level. Students later went to Capitol Hill and passionately communicated to their representatives the impact of CTE in their communities, as well as the need to double the federal investment in CTE.

As a long-standing advocate for policies and legislation that enhance high-quality CTE programs across the country, Advance CTE is committed to empowering students leaders in America. Join us and the CTE community as we continue the campaign to create a brighter future for learners, businesses and communities everywhere.

Visit to learn more about the importance of doubling the federal investment in CTE. Email for questions and updates on the campaign. 

SkillsUSA 2019 WLTI U.S. Capitol Photo

The Importance of Credit for Prior Learning to the Louisiana Community and Technical College System and its Students

October 7th, 2019

Guest blog from Dr. René Cintrón, Chief Academic Affairs Officer, LCTCS

Why Credit for Prior Learning?

Credit for prior learning (CPL) – often described by the American Council on Education as academic credit granted for knowledge and skills gained outside the classroom – supports the unique mission of community and technical colleges. These colleges provide students with the opportunity to earn affordable credentials in a timely fashion that lead to valuable employment and/or transfer, whether the credential is an industry-based certification or a career-technical or transfer degree.

Unfortunately, not every student completes their program. We surveyed Louisiana community and technical college students who withdrew from courses, and found that only 18 percent gave an academic reason for doing so. By far, more students were leaving college without completing a credential because of personal (53 percent) and/or financial (31 percent) reasons. Thus, the majority of students are not withdrawing because of challenges with course content but rather – simply put – because of time and money. CPL has the ability to tackle both of these challenges for students.

Our students come to our colleges with a wealth of knowledge they obtained through their careers, past learning, military service and life experiences.  When relevant, this knowledge can and should be applied to progress towards an academic credential. A few years ago, we started working with military partners in the state to increase the number of military students who enroll and graduate. Our approach was to treat the military transcript as an academic transcript. We don’t charge fees to transfer courses from other postsecondary institutions to ours, so why would we do that for students coming from the military? We took the same approach to students arriving with industry-based credentials (IBCs), transcribing and articulating these credentials as we do with courses on other transcripts. Thus, we consider these students to be “transferring in” just as students do from other institutions.

How Do We Do It?

Credit for prior learning evaluation is the process of determining how to award credit for college-level learning acquired through a variety of means. At the Louisiana Community and Technical College System (LCTCS), expert faculty groups, along with the chief academic officers’ group, met and did the work of compiling existing articulations and mapping future ones. The System reached out to entities such as the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Louisiana National Guard, the state’s Department of Education, the Louisiana Workforce Commission and the Workforce Investment Council, among others, to collect information on the various military courses and IBCs, to review them and determine which could be converted into Career Technical Education (CTE) courses.

The initial review involved each college determining its equivalent course and adding it to a matrix. The next step was to compile all of the colleges’ determinations into the system-wide articulation tables. These tables are updated and maintained on an annual basis, similar to academic catalogs. Then, importantly, the faculty and chief academic officers recognized that to ensure the staying power of their work, the process should be enacted into policy. In March 2018, the LCTCS Board of Supervisors approved revisions to Policy 1.023, which, in addition to supporting credit for prior learning, established guidelines for processing it, formalized the systemwide articulation matrix, and declared no cost to students for CPL course transcription for those in the matrix. The result: the 2018-2019 academic year, 2,073 students enrolled with credit for prior learning – a 50 percent increase from the prior year.

This kind of collaboration and commitment across a broad scope of professionals to reward students for their prior learning efforts exemplifies how Louisiana’s community and technical colleges are supporting students in reaching their college and career goals in a timely manner.

For more, see Advance CTE’s report Developing Credit for Prior Learning Policies to Support Postsecondary Attainment for Every Learner

Short-Term Spending Bill Passes, Senator Alexander Introduces HEA Bill

October 2nd, 2019

This past week, a short-term spending bill was finalized to extend government funding through November 21, 2019, and Senator Lamar Alexander introduced new Higher Education Act (HEA) legislation. Read below to learn more about the appropriations process, HEA proposal, new data on Career Technical Education (CTE) and innovation grants from the U.S. Department of Education. 

Short-Term Spending Bill Extends Funding Into November 

On September 27, President Donald Trump signed a short-term spending bill, H.R. 4378, to extend current funding levels-with some exceptions- through November 21, 2019. Since Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) funding was due to expire on September 30, 2019, this continuing resolution postpones a government shutdown and gives appropriators additional time to finalize the long-term FY20 funding bill. The day before the White House signed the continuing resolution, the Senate passed the bill by a vote of 82-15, following the House passing of the bill earlier in the month. 

Now, appropriators are working on the full FY20 appropriations bills. So far, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health, and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-Education) proposed FY20 funding bill would allocate under $1.3 billion to CTE State Grants, also known as Perkins Basic State Grants- an amount that is level with the FY19 allocation. The House Labor-HHS-Education FY20 funding bill passed  in June proposed an increase of $47 million for Perkins Basic State Grants. Advance CTE will continue to provide updates as additional information becomes available.

Senator Lamar Alexander Introduces Higher Education Act Legislation

On September 26, Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Chair Lamar Alexander (R-TN) introduced a package of eight bipartisan bills entitled the Student Aid Improvement Act of 2019 (S. 2557). This package includes many of Senator Alexander’s long-held priorities for the Higher Education Act (HEA), including:

    • Permanently extending funding for many Minority Serving Institutions, which expired at the end of September;
    • Simplifying and streamlining FAFSA submissions; 
    • Restoring Pell Grant eligibility for those incarcerated; and
    • Expanding Pell Grants to go to short-term non-degree programs. This is similar to the JOBS Act (S. 239 / H.R. 827) – which Advance CTE supports. However, there are some differences in Senator Alexander’s proposal, such as eliminating the limit to public institutions.   

The proposed package would require that students who repay their student loans under income-driven repayment plans pay a full 10% of their discretionary income.

HELP Committee Ranking Member Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) has expressed concern with Alexander taking a piecemeal approach, and has advocated for a full HEA reauthorization. Many of Murray’s priorities, including comprehensive student loan reform and Title IX issues dealing with campus sexual assault are not included in Alexander’s bill.

New Interactive Data Story on Career Technical Education in High School

The U.S. Department of Education released a new interactive Career Technical Education (CTE) data story, “Bridging the Skills Gap: Career and Technical Education in High School.” Along with the release of the report, Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical and Adult Education Scott Stump shared that “CTE opens pathways to success for students whether they choose to pursue postsecondary education or enter the workforce after high school. These data show that students who concentrate in a high-demand CTE field, such as STEM or health sciences, go on to reap benefits from their studies long after graduation.”

The data in this new report examines CTE participation in high schools and student outcomes. Some of the data findings include: 

  • 77% of high school students earn at least one CTE credit;
  • About 75% of public school districts that have CTE programs offer CTE courses that grant dual credit; 
  • High school students who are CTE concentrators have a higher graduate rate than non-CTE concentrators; and
  • High school students who are CTE concentrators participate in postsecondary education within eight years of high school graduation at a higher rate than non-CTE concentrators. 

Check out the full report here for additional information on high school CTE delivery, concentrations and outcomes. 

New Education Innovation and Research Grantees Announced

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced new Education Innovation and Research (EIR) program grantees across 41 school districts, state education agencies and non-profit organizations. A total of $123 million in new grant awards will go to creating or expanding innovative practices that are supported by evidence to increase academic achievement for high-need students. Many of the grantees include rural areas and focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education. 

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate and Sam Dunietz, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

Excellence in Action Spotlighting: Questar III BOCES Rensselaer Educational Center, Criminal Justice Program of Study

October 2nd, 2019

The Criminal Justice program of study was developed in response to labor market needs and learner interest at the Questar III BOCES Rensselaer Educational Center in Troy, NY. According to the New York State Department of Labor’s long-term occupational employment projections for the region, careers as detectives and criminal investigators, police and sheriff’s patrol officers, and security guards are all projected to grow significantly between 2014 and 2024. To prepare learners for these careers work-based learning is a core element of the program of study. All seniors are required to complete a minimum of 25 hours at an employer-sponsored internship.

“The instructor, Amy Gillett, has worked tirelessly with industry and post-secondary partners to offer high-quality experiences that prepare students for different careers in the Criminal Justice field. Students leave with a strong knowledge base and many industry credentials that help prepare them for both the workforce and college,” said Dr. Danielle Bouton-Wales, Director of Career and Technical Education at Questar III BOCES

Learners are also able to earn industry certifications in the areas of private security, corrections and public safety dispatching, as well as several Federal Emergency Management Agency certifications, often gaining immediate employment in the field after graduation while attending a postsecondary institution. 

In 2016, after learning that surrounding counties had a shortage in public safety telecommunicators or dispatchers — those responsible for receiving and responding to telephone or other electronic requests for emergency assistance — the program ensured that an instructor was trained and certified to prepare learners for this career.        

Learners working toward earning the Public Safety Telecommunicator I Certification will work with the same equipment they would use on the job, such as a two-station computer system or 911 simulator.

Last year, all Questar III Criminal Justice students from REC graduated high school, participated in work-based learning, earned an industry-recognized credential and earned postsecondary credit. Learn more about the Criminal Justice program, at Questar III BOCES Rensselaer Educational Center and the 2019 award winners.

Organizations in the South Bronx are Expanding Workforce Development Systems to Improve Youth Employment

October 1st, 2019

In the South Bronx, 23 percent of youth are out of school and out of work. Among those working, half are employed in low-paying jobs. To change the trajectory for these learners, JPMorgan Chase & Co. has invested in four initiatives working to increase meaningful work-based learning opportunities for South Bronx students.  Each initiative has its own set of goals focused on specific outcomes, but all are collectively working towards creating equitable systems change so that more learners have access to living-wage career pathways.

One of those initiatives is Consortium for Worker Education (CWE) New York Alliance for Transport and Logistics Advancement Services Initiative (NYATLAS), a private, non-profit agency that provides industry-specific training and employment services to 60,000 New Yorkers a year. CWE estimates that the New York City metropolitan area has 50,000-60,000 jobs in the public transportation sector, 1,000 of which are entry-level and have a career ladder.

CWE is working to ensure learners have the real-world skills employers are seeking by creating a variety of courses that can be completed in four-ten weeks with a career waiting at the completion of the coursework.  CWE is making it a priority to remove barriers to access to these programs, for example, they have helped nearly 500 students obtain driver’s license necessary to participate in these careers.

Improving access to the health care industry is the goal of the New York Alliance for Careers in Healthcare (NYACH) Ready for Healthcare Initiative. It is an industry partnership focused on building an effective, integrated and accessible health care workforce development ecosystem in New York City. NYACH is working with the New York City Department of Education to redesign and update the Healthcare Core Curriculum currently in use at 13 Career Technical Education (CTE) programs across the city.

Current programming focuses on meaningful exposure to careers and industry leaders and includes a guest speaker series, an expo event, a mentorship program and employer site visits. Participants are gaining an understanding of the vast opportunities available in the healthcare industry. The work will continue in fall 2019 with internships for those aspiring to be medical assistants and certified nursing assistants.

Using data to drive improvement is the goal of the third initiative, New Visions for Public Schools’ Data Infrastructure for South Bronx. The nonprofit school support intermediary organization serves more than 350 schools throughout New York City. Their main service is a technology they have designed called the New Visions Data Portal.

The portal has tools to capture student progress to empower school staff and workforce partners by providing them with critical information to support decisions about each student’s path to success. The results are clear: New Visions’ core network of 70 New York City public high schools and 10 New Visions public charter schools surpassed a graduation rate of 84 percent in 2018, on par with the national high school graduation rate.

The final initiative, Per Scholas, is a national nonprofit that provides tuition-free training and professional development to help unemployed or under-employed adults move into careers as technology professionals. With the investment from JPMorgan Chase & Co., Per Scholas is focusing on ensuring learners receive support while still in high school.

 In the early stages of the work, Per Scholas is engaging with employers to identify entry-level skills and tasks to construct simulated tasks that teachers can execute in their classrooms. They are designing simulated work-based learning curriculum modules that will be piloted in three to five Bronx high schools with 150 students and 10 instructors. Additionally, they plan to disseminate work-based learning curriculum modules to high schools to inform career readiness coursework.

 “We know the surest way to expand access to opportunity is to equip people with the skills needed to compete for well-paying, in-demand jobs that are available today and tomorrow,” said Sarah Steinberg, Program Officer, JPMorgan Chase. “That’s why we are supporting communities around the world to design and implement innovative new approaches to career education that prepare young people to enter the workforce with the skills, experiences, and credentials they need to succeed in good careers in growing industries.”

In 2017, JPMorgan Chase invested $6 million as part of the New Skills for Youth initiative to address equity gaps and to strengthen and expand workforce development systems in the South Bronx. All four initiatives will continue to collectively work toward systemic change and meet quarterly to share updates and brainstorm ideas to address any challenges.

The South Bronx is a JPMorgan Chase & Co. New Skills for Youth Innovation Site aiming to improve career pathways for learners. This snapshot is part of a series documenting the progress of the local investments from across the globe that aim to identify and implement the most promising ideas in career education, with a special focus on communities with the greatest needs. Learn more about the innovations sites here.

Excellence in Action Spotlighting: Susan Miller Dorsey High School, Dorsey Film Program

September 30th, 2019

This year’s Excellence in Action award winners, spanning eight Career Clusters® from seven states, represent some of the best Career Technical Education (CTE) programs in the country. Learners take part in rigorous sequences of courses beginning with foundational skills to subject-matter mastery; real-world, hands-on experiences in the classroom led by dedicated educators; and meaningful work-based experiences facilitated by industry partners. One of the award-winners is the Dorsey Film Program of study in Los Angeles, California in the Arts, A/V Technology & Communications Career Cluster®. 

The Dorsey Film Program was launched in 2015 to provide learners with the rigorous and integrated academic and technical coursework required for a career in the media and entertainment industry. In this three-year program of study, courses include investigative video production, audio/visual fundamentals, storytelling, web series/television scriptwriting and journalism.  Learners can also earn early college credit for both core academic courses and video production courses through an articulation agreement with West Los Angeles College.

An exciting aspect of the program is learners have to be able to “teach-back” what they are learning through video tutorials. This practice helps them grasp concepts and find out the areas they may need to improve upon. Throughout the program, learners are creating content that will contribute to their portfolio including producing their own web series, showcasing their incredible skills. Not only that, in 2016 and 2017, Dorsey student films were selected to screen at the Black Hollywood Education Resource Center (BHERC) Youth Film Festival.

Watch the video here:

A Program that Serves Each and Every Learner

“Our program does really well working with students who have learning disabilities, are autistic, or learners who aren’t engaged on campus and have been written off. I think by the nature of the arts we are able to reach them in a way that the other classes aren’t.” — Robyn Charles, Program Director, Dorsey High School Digital Film & Theatre Arts

Susan Miller Dorsey High School is a comprehensive high school campus serving an ethnically diverse population of 53 percent African-American and 45 percent of Hispanic learners. The school also serves special populations including 78 percent low-income learners, three percent homeless, and four percent of foster youth. The film program wants to ensure when youth age-out of the foster system they are equipped to perform a wide variety of tasks needed to compete for technical positions in the industry that are most likely to provide living wages.

When asked, What are you most proud of that this program accomplishes? Robyn Charles responded, “The change in the student. To literally watch the process of a student becoming more vocal, empowered, active, engaged, and positive as they find their voice is what I’m most proud of.” 

Starting Early 

In partnership with the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), middle school learners can begin gaining hands-on video production experience by participating in the Dorsey Summer Film Academy. This three-week summer program teaches youths how to produce their own short films while getting them acclimated to the high school campus. This bridge program is meant to ensure that the community has access to art enrichment programs early in their education, and provide a pathway all the way from middle school to postsecondary education. 

Learning Real-World Skills Opens Doors

To ensure that the program of study is meeting industry demand, a new pre-apprenticeship program called the Dorsey Media Industry Technician program has launched. Learners gain the training needed to qualify for high-demand jobs in the areas of grip, set design, lighting and construction to give learners the ability to work behind the scenes on Hollywood production sites. 

The program includes a two-year curriculum starting with grip and rigging and ending with lighting and construction. An articulation agreement with West Los Angeles College was established as well as a partnership with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees union, removing the barrier of access to union membership for learners. Upon completion of the program, learners will be able to build and take down sets, read blueprints, operate stage lighting and live sound systems/acoustics and more. Learners will gain the skills needed for an industry that has a thriving creative economy with nearly one million jobs in Los Angeles and Orange counties.

Alum on the Road to College and Career Success 

Christian Dixon, an alum of the program, is now enrolled at the University of Chicago pursuing an Entertainment Law degree. Charles stayed in contact with Dixon after graduation and helped him secure a three-year summer internship with William Morris Endeavor, a global entertainment agency, guaranteeing him a position upon college graduation!

At first I didn’t know what kind of lawyer I wanted to be… but now I know I want to stay in the entertainment field. I want to stay working with film. – Christian Dixon

Learn more about the Dorsey Film Program, at Susan Miller Dorsey High School and our 2019 award winners.

FY2020 Appropriations Work, New CTE Bill Introduced

September 26th, 2019

News this Week

As we get closer to the end of September, when government funding will expire, Congress has been continuing to work on the Fiscal Year 2020 appropriations bills. In the past week, the importance of CTE was recognized with the House introduction of the Strengthen CTE in Higher Education Act. The U.S. Department of Education also shared a guide on supporting access to dual enrollment for students with disabilities and embarked on its 2019 Back-to-School Tour.  Read below to learn more about each of these updates. 

Senate and House Continues Work on Appropriations Bills

On September 18, Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-Education), Roy Blunt (R-MO), released the text of the Subcommittee’s Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) appropriations bill. 

The bill allocated $71.4 billion for the Department of Education and $12.1 billion to the Department of Labor. The FY20 bill allocates $1.3 billion to CTE State Grants, also known as Perkins Basic State Grants- an amount that is level with the FY19 funding level. 

The full Labor-HHS-Education FY20 bill can be found here and a summary of the bill can be found here. A markup of the Labor-HHS-Education funding bill has not yet been rescheduled after it was cancelled earlier this month

On September 19, the House of Representatives passed a continuing resolution funding bill that would continue federal funding through November 21- allowing additional time for appropriators to finalize the long-term FY20 bill. A Senate vote for this measure has not been scheduled. Advance CTE will continue to provide updates as additional information becomes available. 

House Introduces The Strengthen CTE in Higher Education Act 

Last week, Representatives Lori Trahan (D-MA), Chris Pappas (D-NH), Kendra Horn (D-OK) and Abby Finkenaur (D-IA) introduced The Strengthen CTE in Higher Education Act (H.R. 4371). This bill would authorize nearly $200 million in funding to strengthen program alignment for postsecondary Perkins Career Technical Education (CTE) programs through collaboration between postsecondary CTE and partners in education and the workforce. 

The full bill can be found here. A press release, including a quote from Advance CTE’s Executive Director Kimberly Green, can be found here

Department of Education Shares Guidance on Dual Enrollment for Students with Disabilities

The U.S. Department of Education released a guide  last week on “Increasing Postsecondary Opportunities and Success for Students and Youth with Disabilities.” The guide shares information about how federal funds under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) can be used by states and districts to support access to higher education programs, such as dual enrollment, for students with disabilities.

In a press release accompanying the guide, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos stated the following:

 “All students deserve the freedom to pursue an education that is challenging and allows them to reach their full potential. I hope this information will make clear what the law says and serve as a resource to families, Individualized Education Program (IEP) Teams and State VR agencies as they continue to collaborate and find ways to increase postsecondary opportunities – and success – for students and youth with disabilities.”

Department of Education Participates in Annual Back-to-School Tour

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, carried out her annual Back-to-School Tour to visit schools that are rethinking education. Secretary DeVos spent time at elementary and secondary schools, as well as postsecondary institutions across Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan. Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical, and Adult Education Scott Stump also participated in the 2019 Back-to-School Tour. Assistant Secretary Stump visited:

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

YouthForce NOLA Collaborative Offers New Pathways, Credentials and Hands-on Training for New Orleans Youth

September 24th, 2019

In just a few short years, the number of New Orleans public school graduates earning statewide industry-recognized credentials in three leading industries —health sciences, digital media and technology, and skilled crafts—has increased fivefold. This is in large part due to the work by YouthForce NOLA, an education, business and civic collaborative that prepares New Orleans public school students to pursue high-wage, high-demand career pathways. A quarter of credentials earned in 2018 were intermediate or advanced credentials, allowing them to continue their education or enter directly into the workforce.

YouthForce NOLA has a four-pronged approach to building career pathways that result in a meaningful credential including: engaging employers to offer internships, career exploration opportunities, and curriculum development; providing technical assistance to schools to redesign their curriculum to be career-focused; increasing training provider capacity to supplement schools’ teaching; and engaging families and the community in the process to ensure buy-in and an understanding of these opportunities. What began as a pilot with only two schools in 2015 will now see students from all 26 of New Orleans Public School open enrollment schools accessing career pathways programming in the 2019-20 school year.

YouthForce NOLA works with over 100 employers to expose students to different career pathways and provide work-based learning experiences through the YouthForce Internship (YFI) program. Participants in YFI have grown exponentially, and start with a 60-hour pre-training, which includes soft skills, job-seeking skills and industry exposure, followed by a 90-hour paid internship. Participation in these meaningful work experiences has grown from 18 students in 2015 to approximately 250 students in the summer of 2019. Nearly 90 percent of partners who participate in the internship program would recommend it to other employers. 

“We know the surest way to expand access to opportunity is to equip people with the skills needed to compete for well-paying, in-demand jobs that are available today and tomorrow,” said Katie LeGardeur, Managing Director and Market Leader for JPMorgan Chase in New Orleans. “That’s why we are supporting communities around the world to design and implement innovative new approaches to career education that prepare young people to enter the workforce with the skills, experiences, and credentials they need to succeed in good careers in growing industries.”

YouthForce NOLA and its partners are also expanding the ways in which students can gain hands-on skills by investing in the newly launched New Orleans Career Center, a city-wide technical training hub. The New Orleans Career Center now provides students from over a dozen partner high schools with hands-on training in high-demand fields. Additional YouthForce technical training partner options include Operation Spark (software development), NOTEP (construction trades), NOVAC (creative/digital media), Gateway EMS (emergency services), and Spark Mindset (network security).

Family and community engagement also is central to the collaborative’s mission. With assistance from the Urban League of Louisiana and families themselves, YouthForce NOLA developed a toolkit and an aligned workshop focused on strategies for helping schools remove barriers for family engagement. Any school that wants to join the YouthForce NOLA network must include a family engagement plan, ensuring it is a key component of their program.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. New Skills for Youth initiative invested in YouthForce NOLA to expand and enhance the organization’s efforts to develop a pipeline of skilled workers for high-demand, high-wage careers. As the program grows, it will continue to focus on helping learners gain job-specific skills, work experience and soft skills.

Youthforce NOLA is a JPMorgan Chase & Co. New Skills for Youth Innovation Site aiming to improve career pathways for learners. This snapshot is part of a series documenting the progress of the local investments from across the globe that aim to identify and implement the most promising ideas in career education, with a special focus on communities with the greatest needs. Learn more about the innovations sites here.