(Frankfort, KY) – The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and JPMorgan Chase & Co. announced Jan. 11 that Kentucky is one of 10 states that will receive a $2 million grant to strengthen and expand career education pathways for students.
These state grants, which will be distributed over the next three years, are part of the $75 million, five-year New Skills for Youth (NSFY) Initiative developed by JPMorgan Chase, in collaboration with CCSSO and Advance CTE. NSFY aims to strengthen career-focused education starting in high school and ending with postsecondary degrees or credentials aligned with high-skill jobs.
“If we are to achieve our goal of making Kentucky the hub of excellence in engineering and manufacturing in America, we must work diligently to be more economically competitive,” said Gov. Matt Bevin. “Ensuring we have the mostly highly skilled and well trained workforce is critical to this effort. The current shortage of skilled workers makes it difficult for Kentucky employees to create and expand their businesses. This grant will ensure career and technical education is better aligned with the needs of employers and business leaders. This, in turn, will bring about increased economic prosperity for both current and future generations of Kentuckians.”
In March 2016, JPMorgan Chase and CCSSO awarded Kentucky a $100,000 grant as part of the first phase of the New Skills for Youth Initiative for planning and early implementation of long-term career readiness education programs that align with the needs of Kentucky employers. In total, 24 states and the District of Columbia received Phase I grants.
The new grant represents the second phase of the New Skills for Youth Initiative, which provides 10 of the original 24 recipients with funding to execute the career-readiness plans they developed during the first phase.
“We are excited to expand educational and economic opportunities for young people across Kentucky,” Commissioner of Education Stephen Pruitt said. “The initial New Skills for Youth Grant allowed us to really take stock of the career pathways we were offering to ensure students receive the skills, knowledge and credentials they need to compete for hot jobs in the future. This second phase grant will allow us to dramatically increase opportunities for Kentucky students to complete rigorous and relevant Career and Technical Education programs and earn industry-recognized credentials that will prepare them for postsecondary success and high-skill, high-demand jobs in our state.”
Kentucky received the New Skills for Youth Grant after a rigorous review process, which included examination of the state’s plan to transform how it designs and develops career preparedness education programs. The state will use the funds to incentivize school districts to create regional career academies that are aligned to high-demand careers and involve collaboration among K12, postsecondary education and employers.
“Our grant will help the state of Kentucky’s strategic, regional plan to drive workforce-relevant education and training aligned to local needs,” said Louis Straub, executive director, Chase Commercial Bank. “To meet the needs of this dynamic economy, when our students leave high school, they must be prepared for college or a career in a local growth industry. Kentucky’s use of career readiness to reduce gender, racial and socioeconomic achievement gaps aligns with our goal of providing our youth with pathways to economic success.”
Kentucky’s long-term vision involves regional employers and educators creating rigorous pathways with seamless transitions from secondary settings to postsecondary programs that culminate in valuable industry certifications and credentials recognized by the state and regional workforce. This regional and unified approach is designed to transform secondary education in Kentucky.
“Business and education must partner together to create a strong workforce,” Kentucky Chamber of Commerce President and Chief Executive Officer Dave Adkisson said. “Career and Technical Education in Kentucky helps bridge the gap between the classroom and the world of work. The New Skills for Youth Initiative is an example of how business and education can work together to facilitate positive change and increase opportunities for Kentucky’s students. The news today will only strengthen those goals.”
The New Skills for Youth grant funds will be distributed in Kentucky through a competitive grant process. Plans will require the collaboration of multiple school districts and a postsecondary partner. Further details on the requirements and process will be distributed when finalized, but it is anticipated the process will start in late February with the funds distributed beginning in July.
Along with the Kentucky Department of Education, state partners in the New Skills for Youth Initiative in Kentucky include the Council on Postsecondary Education, Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, Cabinet for Economic Development, Labor Cabinet, Chamber of Commerce, Kentucky Center for Education and Workforce Statistics and the Kentucky Community and Technical College System.