Fueled by Grants, States Bet Innovative Career Training Programs Will Lure Disengaged Youth Back to School After COVID — Starting in Middle School

By Beth Hawkins, The 74

News November 10, 2021

Could student-run vertical farms — hyper-efficient, clean facilities where produce grows up on racks, instead of out across fields — help stabilize small cities in northwest Tennessee?

Could apprenticeships with local chefs keep disaffected Delaware teens in high school and reopen the state’s restaurants, the source of one-tenth of its jobs?

What if a paycheck earned during high school, and the promise of a better one after attaining a credential in a field where good jobs are going begging, motivates a young person who left school during COVID-19 to come back?

With tectonic shifts in the U.S. labor market, a K-12 establishment desperate to re-engage disaffected students and a proven record of pre-pandemic success stories, career and technical education is having a moment.

Bloomberg Philanthropies has announced $25 million in new grants in two states and nine cities — the latest in a series of initiatives by private donors and state and civic leaders — to boost promising career-pathway programs at a time when they are particularly suited to addressing educational inequities widened by COVID.

With the aim of maximizing the impact of their donations, a number of other philanthropies are collaborating with Bloomberg. Last week, the Walton Family Foundation announced $20 million in grants to nonprofits engaged in career development efforts, including a competitive grant program coordinated by the nonprofit American Student Assistance. Other Walton grantees include the think tank New America’s Partnership to Advance Youth Apprenticeship which, among other things, uses data to identify promising initiatives, and Urban Alliance, which aims to increase employer participation in career preparation.

Read the full article from The 74.

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