State Department of Education announces $100,000 career-readiness grant


OKLAHOMA CITY  (March 30, 2016) – The Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) today announced it has secured a $100,000 grant to develop a detailed career-readiness action plan, an essential step in expanding economic opportunity for young people across the state.
 
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister expressed her gratitude to JPMorgan Chase & Co’s New Skills for Youth (NSFY) grant selection committee and emphasized the importance of developing pathways to career success for Oklahoma’s public schoolchildren.
 
“Amid diminished resources in education funding, we are excited and honored to accept this New Skills for Youth Initiative grant, which will strengthen our efforts to ensure all public schoolchildren in Oklahoma are college- and career-ready,” said Hofmeister. “Our focus will be to bring greater value in earning a high school diploma where students have more clearly identified options aligned with their passion, interest and strengths.
 
"Oklahoma students deserve a more personalized education. We look forward to connecting students with real-life career guidance earlier in their educational experience with the assistance of these new resources.”
 
Oklahoma is among 24 states and the District of Columbia that secured the phase-one grants, the initial step in a $75 million, five-year initiative developed by JPMorgan Chase in partnership with the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and Advance CTE. The initiative has a goal of increasing economic opportunity for young people by strengthening career-focused education beginning in high school and ending with postsecondary degrees or credentials aligned with business needs.
 
Today, only about half of Americans under the age of 25 have a meaningful postsecondary credential that enables them to compete for good jobs, and the U.S. youth unemployment rate is more than double the national rate. In 2015, 54 percent of Oklahoma students went on to attain a degree or advanced credential after high school. However, the Oklahoma Office of Workforce Development predicts that by 2025, 77 percent of new jobs will require advanced credentials. The NSFY grant will allow Oklahoma to expand Gov. Mary Fallin’s statewide initiative, Oklahoma Works, a collaborative effort among business, education, state agencies and others to align education and training to produce a relevant workforce for Oklahoma’s economy. 
 
 
Through phase one of NSFY, Oklahoma and other selected states will each receive a six-month, $100,000 grant, expert technical assistance and peer support from other grantees to perform a diagnostic assessment of their career preparation system and prepare for implementation of a new action plan.
 
Under the NSFY initiative, OSDE will connect cross-sector teams with secondary school students through a Career Pathways website and partner with the Southern Regional Education Board to develop and implement a statewide career pathways needs assessment. Areas of focus will include providing students access to accelerated learning opportunities, creating intervention programs to decrease dropout rates and preparing college- and career-readiness advisement tools. By coordinating strategic priorities and plans across the sectors of education, policy and industry, OSDE hopes to increase the number of high school graduates who earn valuable credentials driven by the demands of high-skill industry sectors.
 
“We must address the youth career crisis, and it starts in our schools,” said Chauncy Lennon, Head of Workforce Initiatives for JPMorgan Chase. “These grants kick-start an effort to ensure career and technical education systems are better aligned with the needs of business and leaders throughout states that are committed to tackling youth employment.”
 
An independent advisory committee recommended phase-one grant recipients after a rigorous review process that considered states’ proposed plans, cross-sector partnerships, and commitment and capacity to transform their systems of career preparation according to grant guidelines. In the judgment of the advisory committee, the selected states showed promise in their career-readiness plans and considered them a priority.
 
Oklahoma and other phase-one planning grant states will be eligible to apply for a phase-two grant opportunity, which will require states to demonstrate commitment and capacity to execute the action plans developed in phase one.
Last updated on June 27, 2016