CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Cleveland Metropolitan School District announced a new program on Monday that will focus on preparing students for career paths and connecting them to paid jobs to live on after high school graduates.
The Career Planning and Exploration Initiative (PACE), led by the school district and the Cleveland Foundation, will be integrated this school year as part of the CMSD program for students in grades 6 to 12. It will focus on providing students with knowledge, skills and experiences for the careers they wish to pursue, according to a press release.
The school district and the Cleveland Foundation are joined by six other major corporate partners, including College Now Greater Cleveland, Greater Cleveland Partnership and The Fund for Our Economic Future. The Cleveland Foundation board of directors approved a grant of $ 950,000 in June to help CMSD and its partners implement PACE, the statement said.
“Creating this pipeline will benefit both our graduates and the region,” school district CEO Eric Gordon said in the statement. “We want all of our students, whether they’re in college or not, to find and thrive in paid careers that match their strengths and interests. And employers need qualified candidates to fill the positions in demand.
PACE’s planning process began in September 2019 and involved more than 40 organizations and more than 70 employers, the statement said.
Planning focused on creating and implementing student-centered career exploration, as well as integrating workplace learning and a counseling and planning system, the release said. The aim is to help ensure that every student graduates and has an orientation and career path aligned with the local job market, the statement said.
In addition, the work consisted of establishing a consortium of partners from various sectors, including the public sector, education and philanthropy. The “career consortium” aspect of the program is expected to begin early next year, the statement said.
“The Greater Cleveland Partnership remains committed to supporting the Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s PACE initiative because we know that a strong and collaborative education system will produce young people who will succeed and compete in a radically changing world,” Shana Marbury, Lawyer GCP general and senior vice president for talents, said in the statement. “The business community plays a vital role in being part of this system that will develop the talent needed to help our region thrive. “
The PACE initiative aims to establish a support system in the early stages of student education, promote career awareness and provide workplace learning opportunities, the release said.
Students will have the opportunity to explore 16 broad career areas including healthcare, manufacturing and IT, said Anthony Battaglia, executive director of career and academic paths at CMSD, in an interview with cleveland.com.
Battaglia said that out-of-class experiences will be gradual and will become more specific as students age. Younger sixth graders, for example, could take a field trip to an employer like Lincoln Electric. The trips would aim to educate and expose students to various career paths, Battaglia said.
“We are not trying to push sixth graders to decide what they want,” Battaglia said. “Some will, and they’ll have a fire lit under them and that will be great. But in reality, it’s just about understanding the world that is at hand and trying to unbox it.
When students reach high school, those out-of-class experiences will be more specific and will consist of virtual and in-person viewing opportunities, as well as internships, Battaglia said. He added that the program is working to organize the structures it has to help connect students to opportunities.
During their teenage years, students can use an online tool to actively help chart a career path, Battaglia said. After a lesson, a sixth grader could reflect on what he had done and answer targeted questions. As students brainstorm and answer questions, they will be able to access information based on their preferences and interests.
Program organizers believe that the number of students attending the college will increase as a result of the program, as they recognize the connection between the college and the desired career path, Battaglia said.
“We have a lot of students who are struggling to find what they want to do, and we think PACE will help them with this issue, that they will then take all the necessary steps to find their careers,” Battaglia said.