College matters. But at least (maybe more?) important than the certificate are gaining skills. The Youth CareerConnect grant program aims to encourage schools at all levels along with workforce partners to:
* Integrate academic and career-focused curriculum to help students be more employable in industries that have a high demand for people (including through skills training and apprenticeship programs;
* Provide more work-based learning opportunities including field trips, job-shadowing and other opportunities;
* Engage employers as partners to mentor and create paths for students in in-demand industries and occupations (think STEM);
* Offer individualized career and academic counseling;
* Better integrate education and training that lets high school students earn a post-secondary degree or certificate or credential.
The $100 million fund has been created from the revenues the government gets from processing H-1B visas. It's expected to fund 25 to 40 grants for individual or multisite projects that will be carried out by local education agencies, public or nonprofit local workforce entities or nonprofits with education reform experience. The partnerships must include a local education agency, a local workforce investment system, an employee and an institution of higher learning. Applicants will also have to provide a 25% match of the grant award.
The awards will be made in early 2014 so that they can be delivered for the 2014-15 school year. Grant applications are here.