Posts Tagged ‘STEM education’

ECMCF Fellow Feature: Dominique Footes

Monday, June 5th, 2023

In September 2022, Advance CTE and ECMC Foundation announced the second cohort of The Postsecondary State Career Technical Education (CTE) Leaders Fellowship at Advance CTE—Sponsored by ECMC Foundation. The Advance CTE — ECMCF Fellows include representation across multiple demographic categories reflecting the Fellowship’s goal of intentionally building a postsecondary leadership pipeline for underserved populations in Career Technical Education (CTE)  that closes racial representation gaps and removes equity barriers to postsecondary leadership advancement. For this next blog in the ECMCF Fellow Feature series, we interviewed  ECMCF Fellow Dominique Footes (MD) who is passionate about elevating CTE and using data to advance equity for every learner.

Tell me more about your journey to the Fellowship.

I was drawn to the Fellowship’s focus on using data as a tool to advocate for equity, and I had previously worked with Dr. Kevin Johnson through the Association of Career and Technical Education’s (ACTE) Inclusion, Access, Equity and Diversity Mentorship program, so I was confident that the professional development through this experience would be rigorous. He’s the type of mentor that will encourage and push you to analyze DEI issues on a deeper level and asks questions that you’ve never considered before. I knew that I was up to the challenge, and I knew that this would be an incredible opportunity for growth. 

What are the skills or areas where you’ve experienced the most growth in the program? 

I’ve noticed a change in my confidence and the way that I communicate. Fellowships can be intimidating, from the expert speakers to the caliber of my fellow cohort members and having the confidence to navigate these spaces is a huge success. I know that my experience as a practitioner is valuable, and now I have more confidence to ask questions to translate what might be happening in another state to apply it to our own context in Maryland. Engaging with speakers has been the highlight of this experience for me.

Engaging with other Fellows has been great. I’ve been able to learn more about how others have leveraged DEI in their work and applied similar approaches to conversations I am having with my organization’s leadership. My program is centered around career development for minority students and I’ve had the confidence to pose challenging questions that they’ve been very receptive to. 

Have you been tapped for new or more advanced roles within your organization as a result of your experience in the Fellowship? 

The topics we’ve explored in the Fellowship are timely with my current projects as a Special Programs Administrator. We’re looking to engage more minorities in STEM spaces and have the knowledge of how to approach this work with fidelity. 

I have a lot of experience working with students. When I combine this experience with the postsecondary knowledge that I’m gaining through the Fellowship, I’ve seen that my colleagues are more willing to listen to the needs of students to support their career development experiences. I am able to speak directly about the process for re-engaging them post-COVID and what we need to do to equip them to return to the classroom.

How has your experience in the fellowship helped you explore new spaces or positions in postsecondary state CTE leadership? 

My conversations and relationship with my mentor have been really valuable in helping me realize the professional opportunities that exist to support postsecondary work. Initially, I wasn’t sure of the direction I wanted to go in, but learning more about organizations that do work externally to support postsecondary programs and elevate their work with students has been really rewarding. 

I’m grateful for this thought partnership, and I’ve been able to reflect on how I can continue to build a strong foundation to do meaningful work.

I feel like we’ve reached a point where we have to start looking at CTE as a starting point rather than a stop. This is a huge part of the work that I’m doing and I want to ensure that I am highlighting these programs for students so that they understand that they can access them wherever they are in their journey.

Academic exploration needs to go hand-in-hand with skills training and we need to consider how we’re reflecting this in the marketing of these programs. This work is done through advocacy and increasing awareness of what CTE is. For example, students may not understand that STEM programs fall under CTE. They need to know about all the different pathways and the spectrum within these programs for upskilling. 

Tell us more about your Real-World Project which focuses on using data to provide more supportive programming for women entering STEM industry programs.

I know that engaging women in these spaces is really important and there is definitely a need to increase the number of young women in STEM programs. This issue became more urgent after the pandemic because of the disproportionate burden that was placed on women. There is acknowledgment across the STEM field and a desire to see women succeed but we need to understand the best way to support them. 

My project evaluates the tools that we’re providing learners to understand the impact on their persistence in and completion of their programs. We also want to understand how they’re being prepared to transition into the workforce. I saw an opportunity to leverage and organize the data we’ve collected on women participating in CTE.  I am developing a tool that aggregates the available data to develop a program that targets the specific challenges women in STEM programs are encountering. 

Making sure the student is self-sufficient when they leave us and have the necessary language and tools to succeed in these industries and hopefully turn around and uplift that next group is important.

If you have any questions, contact Dominique Footes by email at   

Amy Hodge, Policy Associate

By Jodi Langellotti in Achieving Equitable and Inclusive CTE
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Legislative Update: Congress Reaches Deal on Debt Ceiling

Friday, June 2nd, 2023

This week, lawmakers emerged with a compromise deal to raise the nation’s statutory borrowing limit– breaking a monthslong impasse on this important issue. The bill is expected to be signed by President Biden soon. Elsewhere, a new federal agency partnership has been announced.

Lawmakers Pass Debt Ceiling Deal

Since the start of the 118th Congress, lawmakers have struggled to agree on whether and how to raise the nation’s statutory borrowing authority (known informally as the debt limit or ceiling). This borrowing cap must be raised to pay for expenses Congress has already incurred. In recent weeks, the U.S. Treasury Department has estimated that the federal government will exhaust current options to service these debt obligations by June 5. Failure to raise the debt limit would result in an unprecedented default on the United States’ debt and would have severe economic consequences for the nation’s economy. 

For the last several weeks House Republicans, led by Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), and President Biden have been intensely negotiating the contours of an agreement to raise the nation’s debt limit in exchange for spending and policy concessions. Over the Memorial Day weekend, lawmakers announced that they had reached agreement on this critical issue. The Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA) suspends the debt limit for the next two years, through 2025, and establishes new spending caps for that same period of time. These spending caps, which will apply to the upcoming 2024 federal fiscal year (FY24) and the next (FY25), freeze current levels of federal investment in domestic programs, like those funded by the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act as amended by the Strengthening Career and Techincal Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V), at roughly current FY23 levels. These spending caps will make it more difficult to increase funding for Perkins V and the Career  Technical Education (CTE) programs it supports. 

The FRA also contains a provision that incentivizes the passage of all 12 federal appropriations bills later this year. Should Congress not achieve that goal, an automatic spending reduction would be applied to the entire federal budget until full-year appropriations legislation has been passed. Further, the bill would allow for a one percent increase in funding for domestic discretionary programs in FY25. Collectively, these provisions are intended to slow federal discretionary spending, which has been a significant priority for Congressional Republicans. 

In addition, the FRA rescinds approximately $28 billion in unspent pandemic aid funding, including an estimated $391 million in unobligated Education Stabilization Funding (ESF). While the ESF includes funding streams for K-12 education, higher education and private schools, early analysis of the legislation indicates that most of this rescinded funding will come from unclaimed resources that have not been disbursed by the U.S. Department of Education (ED). This means that these rescissions are not likely to have a substantial impact on states, school districts or postsecondary institutions given most of these resources have already been spent or otherwise obligated for future use. Finally, the FRA includes several other policy concessions sought by House Republicans, including imposing new work requirements for certain social safety net programs and modest reforms to permitting for energy projects.  

Lawmakers returned to Capitol Hill this week to consider and vote on the FRA. Late Wednesday night, the full House chamber passed the legislation by a margin of 314-117, with 149 Republicans and 165 Democrats voting in favor of the proposal. The bill moved quickly over to the Senate, where lawmakers there cleared the legislation late Thursday night by a margin of 63-36. The FRA now heads to President Biden’s desk for signature and enactment ahead of the fast-approaching June 5 deadline. 

ED and NASA Sign MOU

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to strengthen coordination between the two agencies related to increasing access to high-quality science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and space education programming. In particular, the MOU strengthens the agencies’ efforts to increase access for historically underserved student populations. “I am excited for this partnership with NASA that will inspire and prepare young people from all backgrounds to become our next generation of leaders in STEM fields and to propel our nation and our workforce into the future,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said at the MOU signing. More information on the agreement can be found here

Career Z Work-based Learning Challenge Deadline 

As shared earlier this spring, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) launched a new grant competition aimed at surfacing innovative approaches to expanding learner access to high-quality work-based learning opportunities. The “Career Z Challenge” will provide multiphase grants to projects and ideas that can be scaled elsewhere and nationally. Local education agencies and schools that receive federal Perkins V funding are eligible to apply and to share their ideas for how to improve and expand work-based learning. The deadline for applications is June 7 and more information can be found here

Steve Voytek, Policy Advisor 


By Jodi Langellotti in Public Policy
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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 admin in Uncategorized
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