Building 21 – Launchpad

Launchpad is a new initiative from Building 21 that will directly connect young people to living-wage paying jobs that offer upwardly mobile career opportunities while providing them with the credentials, skills, mindsets, and experience to thrive in these roles. The program will begin preparing students from a network of high schools across Philadelphia during their final two years in high school and will continue in the two years that follow.

Launchpad will connect students with higher education and quality career-connected learning opportunities where students can earn associate’s degrees and certifications, build industry-specific skills, develop real-world career experience, and launch their careers. Students will leave Launchpad with a job in a high-growth industry with upwardly mobile career opportunities.

“We know that talent is equally distributed – we are starting Launchpad to make sure that opportunity is more equitably distributed for young people across Philadelphia and beyond.  We are excited to bring together networks of students, schools, employers and other community-based organizations to co-create new pathways for young people that lead to good jobs in growing industries.”  – Dannyelle Austin, incoming Executive Director of Launchpad

For more information about Building 21 and Launchpad, visit building21.org.

nXu – Purpose Opportunity Program

nXu is partnering with a growing number of schools across the nation through nXu’s Purpose Opportunity Program (POP) which comprehensively supports educators and schools to implement nXu’s high school and middle school curriculum along with an associated assessment system. 

Through nXu’s curriculum, students engage in career exploration through the lens of purpose and identity while cultivating their social and emotional learning skills. nXu’s curriculum strategically integrates often disparate constructs including purpose development, social-emotional learning, identity development, relationship & social capital development, and career exploration; in doing so, POP and nXu’s curriculum encourages greater academic engagement, fosters a sense of belonging among students, and instills confidence in students to navigate their professional and academic journeys. 

Since its inception, nXu has intentionally focused on serving BIPOC students & students from historically marginalized backgrounds and the educators, schools & organizations that serve them.  

Learn more about nXu’s Purpose Opportunity Program at nxueducation.org/pop.

WeThrive – EducationWeThrive

WeThrive Education equips underestimated youth to own their future. Youth identify problems in the community, sharpen the ideas into viable micro-enterprises, and use seed funding WeThrive provides to launch, earning real revenues and real traction. This initiative is a work-based learning program helping youth launch and run real businesses. WeThrive leverages a best-in-class curriculum and self-guided interactive modules to activate youth as change-makers who create real companies, earning real revenues as they perfect the practice required to achieve economic prosperity. The organization provides students with mentorships, life skills training, financial training, and funding needed to develop and launch their business ideas. WeThrive aims to support a generation of students to unleash their intellectual and economic potential and close racial wealth and achievement gaps throughout the United States.

“WeThrive gave me the ability to do things I never thought I was capable of. Not only did I learn the ropes of becoming an entrepreneur, but I was taught how to speak to people and tools that could lead me to success in nearly any situation. WeThrive isn’t about creating a company, it’s about building opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t have been available.” – Megan, Co-founder of UNI

“Our corporate advisors listened to us and understood our business idea. Our person knew a lot about laws and things we need to do if we are going to babysit kids and make this a bigger business.” – Courtney, Co-founder of Hoot Hoot Babysitting

“Kids never ask why are we doing this or why is this important. It’s obvious that it’s real and it has real life implications.” – Shane, IB Career Program Coordinator at DC International

For more information about WeThrive and EducationWeThrive, visit teamwethrive.org. Resources for interested Workforce Boards and School and Community Organizations are also available.

Education Design Lab – Propel Polk!

Education Design Lab is making students more competitive applicants for colleges and employers by creating credentialed programs for soft skills. The Lab’s research has found that collaboration, creative problem-solving, and empathy are in high demand by employers. In partnership with Polk County Public Schools in Florida and local business and alignment organizations (Polk Vision and Central Florida Development Council), Education Design Lab is creating a pilot program to teach 450 11th and 12th graders these skills. Participating students will receive digital micro-credentials they can include on job and college applications.

These types of digital micro-credentials and college credit for the learning and demonstration of soft skills could be a gamechanger for young people as a bridge to college and careers. The ultimate goal of this pilot is to see how the intentional teaching of these skills can increase rates of graduation, job placement, and higher education matriculation. Southern New Hampshire University is analyzing the 21st-century skills micro-credentials for the potential award of college credit.

“Education Design Lab is delighted to have identified Polk County Schools and the community of Polk County as partners in the Propel Polk! initiative. Polk County demonstrates an extensive learn-earn ecosystem with active engagement of community and business leaders in cultivation of a strong talent pipeline to drive local economic vitality.  Florida is embracing digital credentials as a means for reinforcing a rapid response to get skilled talent into high-need jobs.” – Dr. Naomi Boyer, Senior Director, Skills and Data Ecosystem, Education Design Lab

For more information about Education Design Lab, visit eddesignlab.org.

Crowder College – Digital Pathways in the Rural Heartland

With their Digital Pathways in the Rural Heartland initiative, Crowder College and Codefi have partnered to reshape the narrative about career opportunities in rural America from one centered on manufacturing and agriculture to one that includes a flourishing digital workforce.

The Digital Pathways in the Rural Heartland offers courses for middle and high school students in rural Missouri to learn about career opportunities and gain professional experience in software development.

After completing the coursework from this initiative, students will receive industry-recognized credentials and work experience that opens doors to well-paying careers in the digital economy. This initiative will contribute to eliminating skills and opportunity gaps and strengthening local economies.

“Ideally, when we finish our first year, we have students that are employable because of regional CTE [Career and Technical Education] experience. In the meantime at Crowder, we have Postsecondary learning options to continue if they choose to.“ – Chett Daniel, Crowder College Director of Research and Innovations

For more information about Crowder College and the Digital Pathways in the Rural Heartland, go to crowder.edu. To learn more about their partner Codefi go to codefiworks.com.

Collegiate EduNation – Rural HOPE Project

Collegiate Edu-Nation is a Texas-based network that facilitates the transformation of rural student outcomes and rural workforce development by partnering with local school, community, and business leaders to establish and support regionally relevant education systems. Their Rural HOPE project supports students from their first day of preschool to the start of a meaningful career.

Boasting goals of 100% high school graduation rate and 80% bachelor’s degree attainment for Collegiate Edu-Nation participants, this ambitious program aims to break the cycle of rural decline and embed a mindset of “Rural Hope” into the Texas communities it serves. Collegiate Edu-Nation connects school districts with training and resources in several critical areas, including capacity building, intentional service supports, statewide networking, and professional development.

“I grew up in Roscoe and have seen firsthand the rural decline; it’s a state and national trend. The best and brightest leave for opportunities never to return and you end up with rural brain drain and loss of social capital and growth in generational poverty… We did the research and realized we could do better.” – Dr. Kim Alexander, former school superintendent and Collegiate Edu-Nation CEO

Visit edu-nation.org for more information about Collegiate EduNation.

Collegiate Academies – Next Level NOLA

Collegiate Academies’ Next Level NOLA initiative provides transformative, personalized support to graduating seniors in New Orleans.

Next Level NOLA is a free, one-year fellowship for graduating seniors of New Orleans’ Public Schools that counters the obstacles students traditionally face in their postsecondary pursuits. This “bridge year” helps students understand and excel in both high-wage, high-demand careers and higher education through opportunities to earn college credits; gain career-connected learning experiences through training, guest speakers, networking, mentorships, and internships; engage in individualized success coaching and support services, and access tutoring and ACT prep to access scholarships.

Through this comprehensive program, students have a focused, debt-free year to explore their unique passions, aspirations, and purpose and transition to their next steps with defined, long-term plans for success in the field of their choice.

“I was scared to go straight into college because I know a lot of people do that without knowing exactly what they want to study or do afterwards and then they just end up with a ton of debt. I was pretty sure I wanted to do culinary arts, but Next Level NOLA is helping me try that out while getting college credits, without risking getting into any debt.” – Current Next Level NOLA Fellow

“We are working with young adults who are choosing to grow themselves. And this is all about their choice to be pushed both academically and socially. Our fellows are absolutely the future managers, teachers, leaders, and executives. They are the change makers that will be here in New Orleans for years to come.” – Rhonda Dale, Next Level NOLA Executive Director

For more information about Collegiate Academies and Next Level NOLA, visit nextlevelnola.org.

Propel America – Accelerate America

Propel America’s Accelerate America initiative allows high school graduates to access affordable and quick pathways to a living-wage job and college credits in collaboration with AccelerateU at National Louis University. Participants receive individual guidance and support from a career coach to help them build the skills and competencies necessary to succeed in both higher education and the workplace.  

The initiative supports a diverse cohort of young adults enrolled in medical assistant certification fellowships in New Jersey, Philadelphia, Chicago, Louisiana, and Rhode Island, with a coaching curriculum that is culturally relevant and invites young people to bring their lived experiences into their learning. Accelerate fellows who complete the program are guaranteed interviews with companies ready to hire. Accelerate removes the barriers young people face, and makes hard work pay off the ways it’s supposed to.

For more information about Propel America and the Accelerate America program, visit propelamerica.org.