Posts Tagged ‘Afterschool Alliance’

Putting Afterschool to Work: Impactful Work-based Learning in New Orleans

Friday, January 24th, 2020

The destruction of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 transformed New Orleans into a place where construction is not just a high demand, high-wage career, but an act of service to the community. unCommon Construction (UCC)—a non-profit organization in New Orleans that delivers afterschool programming and weekend on-site apprenticeships—engages high school students in career pathways within the construction industry, while also building and selling essential market rate homes for residents and families in the students’ home town.

UnCommon Construction provides high school students with the opportunities to gain over 100 paid internship hours per semester in on-site, hands-on work based learning in the construction trades, through partnerships with area schools and the Louisiana statewide CTE program known as Jump Start. UCC student apprentices engage in trainings after school and spend the weekends building a home in their community alongside construction industry experts including architects, engineers, carpenters, electricians, realtors, title attorneys and more. As UCC Founder Aaron Frumin puts is, “the need in this industry is so broad and widespread, there really isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach.”

UCC programming utilizes the flexibility of the afterschool hours to emphasize the development of communication and teamwork skills, also known as employability skills, to compliment the work-based learning opportunities students receive on the job site.  During afterschool hours, students participate in a leadership development series called “Framing Character,” and are evaluated using a third-party evaluation tool known as a Hirability Scorecard, developed by MHALabs.org. A student who progresses well through the rubric receives an end-of-program endorsement shared with industry partners upon graduation.

The program prides itself on the success of its completers. Eighty percent of students who enroll in the rigorous program complete their semester. Of those who complete their term, 100 percent have remained on track for high school graduation and gone on to either further their education or acquired a job within three months of graduating high school. Remarkably, UCC has been incredibly successful in engaging nontraditional student populations. While the construction industry is 8 percent female about 40 percent of program participants are female or non-gender conforming.

UCC’s model requires a close collaboration with the schools it partners with, often working directly through a college and career counselor or internship coordinator. The school will inform students about the availability of the UCC program, then assist students with writing their applications, acquiring work permits, soliciting letters of recommendation and preparing for their in-person interviews. Once a student is enrolled as a participant, the UCC program reports attendance and progress back to the school so that the school may assign internship credit. UCC also recognizes that students benefit from individual relationships with the mentors in their program, and has established partnerships with schools to provide students with wrap-around support during the school day during identified intervention times to help the student stay on track for high school graduation and career success.

How Louisiana Supports Programs Like unCommon Construction

Afterschool programming and work-based learning in Louisiana is strengthened by state policy and funding. Louisiana’s statewide Jump Start initiative ensures the high school accountability system credits schools equally for work preparing students on quality pathways to college or career. Through Jump Start, students can earn a career diploma by completing industry-based credentials, and career experiences/internships are considered a core element of a high-quality secondary CTE program. As UCC director Aaron Frumin puts it, “college and workforce pathways are equally prestigious.”

Additionally, schools can draw down state dollars through the Career Development Fund to support students with unCommon Construction’s year-long programming. The fund provides financial resources to schools to support career development activities, including transportation to work-based learning sites, insurance, tools and gear, training by career professionals and the 100-120 hours of work based learning. UCC’s non-profit program then leverages funding from the houses it sells back into the community along with funding from philanthropic partners to provide every participating student with hourly pay above the minimum wage for their work and training.

Leveraging Perkins V to Strengthen Afterschool Work-based Learning

State leaders have a number of levers to strengthen and expand work-based learning through the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V), the new federal law for Career Technical Education (CTE). States can use Perkins V to foster meaningful partnerships with afterschool programs and other intermediaries to ensure all students can access meaningful work-based learning opportunities, especially when paired with programs that support student employability skills and wraparound supports to see students through a successful graduation and onto the next step in their college or career path.

For one, Perkins V gives states the opportunity to hold local recipients accountable for delivering work-based learning through the secondary CTE program quality indicator. States can choose between three different measures for the accountability indicator, and many are choosing to prioritize work-based learning. As a result of this shift, work-based learning—during and after school hours—is expected to become a more integral part of the CTE experience.

Second, Perkins V funds can be used at the state and local level to support the establishment and expansion of work-based learning opportunities for students. Local funding decisions will be driven by a new Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment, which can surface gaps in work-based learning opportunities and give local leaders direction to help expand offerings for students.

Finally, the law’s emphasis on systems alignment encourages CTE leaders to coordinate with other state agencies to support career development and workforce training for learners. This opens the door for meaningful collaboration with Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) coordinators, who can align afterschool, youth workforce and career pathways programs.

This blog post is the second in a series on the intersection of CTE and afterschool programs, exploring strategies and opportunities to bridge learning both in and out of the classroom. It was written by Jillian Luchner from the Afterschool Alliance, Christopher Neitzey from the Afterschool Alliance and Austin Estes from Advance CTE.

By Austin Estes in Afterschool
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Putting Afterschool to Work: Career Exploration in Out of School Settings

Monday, June 24th, 2019

As a middle school student, Jesse Eberly first discovered his interest in computer science at an afterschool and summer learning program in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania called Schools and Homes in Education (SHINE). Now a senior at the Carbon Career & Technical Institute (CCTI), Jesse remembers building a shed the summer he joined SHINE as his first hands-on learning experience. The next year, he began taking afterschool computer classes in drafting and design on the CCTI campus, and the rest was history.

His experiences in afterschool led him to attend CCTI and specialize in Information Technology, computer engineering and networking, while still connecting with SHINE as a volunteer. Now a recent graduate of CCTI, he wants to build upon the credits he has already earned to complete a degree in cybersecurity and eventually work at the Pentagon. Jesse knows it is time to do away with the old stigma around tech schools. “If the career you want to have is offered there” he said, “it’s great.” And through his early experiences in SHINE’s afterschool and summer programs, Jesse knew what career he wanted to have.

Early Career Exposure Through SHINE

Afterschool programs like SHINE give elementary and middle school students the opportunity to explore and prepare for different careers by delivering developmentally appropriate curriculum. They are effective in building student’s academic and technical skills as well as social and emotional development, including employability skills like teamwork, communication and critical thinking. In fact, 77 percent of parents nationally agree that afterschool programs can help students develop workforce skills. These programs can reinforce and strengthen learning in the classroom and should be critical partners for Career Technical Education (CTE) programs or other career-focused learning.

Activities in the SHINE program, for example, are focused around high-priority occupations in health care, engineering, and green energy, giving students a chance to see how they can apply their education to in-demand careers. The program began as part of a community-wide plan to create seamless educational services from the elementary through high school system, including the area’s career and technical center and on to college.

Afterschool programs can also expose middle school students to different career opportunities they might not have considered otherwise. Skyler, another recent graduate of CCTI, has volunteered and worked in the SHINE program through all four years of high school.  She helped establish two-week summer camps with a focus on exposing middle schoolers to non-traditional careers. The camps provide opportunities for girls in carpentry, auto collision repair and engineering, and for boys in culinary arts, cosmetology and nursing. Last year at CCTI, Skyler ran into one of her former campers, a young man entering his freshman year, who had just signed up for a rotation in nursing. ‘If you hadn’t come to the camp would you have tried nursing?” She recalls asking. “Absolutely not”, he responded.

 

State Strategies to Expand Career Exploration Opportunities in Afterschool Programs

All elementary and middle school students should be able to access programs like SHINE, and state leaders play a critical role in supporting and expanding these opportunities. Many afterschool programs like SHINE are funded through the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)’s 21st Century Community Learning Center grant program, which gives states the flexibility to set priorities and determine how funds will be used at the local level. With ESSA’s focus on well-rounded education, several states have opted to promote career exploration and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education in afterschool programs.

In Pennsylvania, where SHINE is based, the state set the following priorities for ESSA-funded afterschool programs in its state plan: STEM education; workforce, career and college readiness; and planning for transitional, vocational/technical services. Pennsylvania is also elevating career exploration up as a statewide priority by holding schools and districts accountable for career exploration through school and district report cards, encouraging students to complete an individualized career plan by eighth grade.

Opportunities for Alignment with Perkins V

The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V), which was reauthorized last year, also give states the opportunity to connect CTE and afterschool programs. One significant change under Perkins V is that states can now invest Perkins funds in middle school CTE programs, allowing them to begin career exploration activities in even earlier grades. To maximize the effectiveness of these activities, state leaders should consider how to bridge afterschool career exploration with school-based content and curriculum to reinforce what students are learning in the classroom.

State leaders can also take steps to foster collaboration between afterschool and CTE programs through Perkins V by engaging state afterschool leaders, aligning curriculum and resources, and encouraging local Perkins recipients to engage afterschool programs as they develop their local applications. In the national effort to expand career exploration and prepare learners for career success, afterschool programs can play a critical role.

This blog post is the first in a series on the intersection of CTE and afterschool programs, exploring strategies and opportunities to bridge learning both in and out of the classroom. It was written by Jillian Luchner from the Afterschool Alliance, Christopher Neitzey from the Afterschool Alliance and Austin Estes from Advance CTE.

By Austin Estes in Uncategorized
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