A grant proposal submitted by Marlborough Public Schools in collaboration with Jobs for the Future and two other Massachusetts school districts has netted the team a $4.9 million federal Department of Labor grant – with Marlborough getting $1.8 million over four years. The grant will help students develop career skills needed by their communities’ employers, plus earn college credit while still in high school.
According to Jobs for the Future, half of our nation’s youths reach their mid-20s without the skills or labor market credentials demanded by today’s economy. Students who can attain the requisite training and skills needed by their local workforce have a much better chance of landing and retaining jobs and establishing successful careers. The grant proposal leverages this supply-and-demand of the job market to help students graduate high school with sound employment options.
Marlborough, West Springfield and Brockton Public Schools applied for the grant with the support of Jobs for the Future in January. Working with the Pathways to Prosperity State Network – a subsidiary of Jobs for the Future in partnership with the Harvard Graduate School of Education – the three school districts asked for funds to unite state and local employers, educators, and government and nonprofit officials in one overarching goal: to design systems of grades 9-14 STEM career pathways that are aligned with labor market demands and that link rigorous academics with career-focused learning.
According to the proposal, the job market in the Marlborough sector was identified as having the second largest concentration of health care jobs in Massachusetts and is home to 30 percent of the state’s technology jobs. The Massachusetts Advanced Pathways Program (MAPP) will propel Marlborough students toward these jobs through:
- A rigorous, integrated academic- and career-focused program.
- A robust sequence of career awareness/work-based learning experiences.
- Comprehensive college and career guidance, including a detailed and frequently updated Individual Development Plan (IDP).
- Deep involvement by industry partners, from curriculum development to on-the-job training. Students will work cooperatively and directly with employers through mentoring, job shadowing, work-based learning experiences, and internships.
- A range of supportive and wrap-around services such as after-school tutoring, transportation to and from work experiences, and counseling.
- Dual enrollment/college credit coursework.
The pathways will also align with Marlborough’s college/career-ready graduation requirements and the MassCore state-recommended program of study.
“This grant will help us continue the enhancement of our innovative school model and prepare more students for a global hyper-connected economy” said STEM Director Dan Riley. “The curriculum enhancements will impact all MHS students in a positive way.”
Marlborough High School will focus its efforts to help expose students to three sectors of industry thriving in the MetroWest region: engineering & advanced manufacturing, computer science/information technology, and health sciences.
In collaboration with partners, including Parametric Technology Corporation, Framingham State University, and Marlborough Hospital, Marlborough High School will look to provide students and teachers with world-class educational opportunities like high-level professional development focused on interdisciplinary project/problem-based learning through the STEM Certification Course offered at the Christa McAuliffe Center.
Partnership for a Skilled Workforce – the area’s workforce investment board – will serve as a conduit between the schools and business community. Framingham State University and Quinsigamond Community College will serve as the college partners. Parametric Technology Corporation, Marlborough Hospital, and the Marlborough Chamber of Commerce will serve as business/industry partners. More business partners will be added in the near future.
The initiative doesn’t replace the school’s STEM program; it enhances STEM and makes STEM-related opportunities available to even more Marlborough students. The district will begin implementation of the grant immediately, starting with next year’s freshman class. Selection will not be based on prior academic achievement or special services status. Instead, enrollment will be voluntary and open to all.
MAPP hopes that the career pathways developed by the three districts will be replicable and scalable, and soon will serve as models for other schools within Massachusetts and across the country.
Submitted by Beth Wagner Communications Liaison, Marlborough Public Schools