Eighty Apple Valley High School students participate in Youth CareerConnect program through a partnership that includes ISD 196, DCTC, IHCC, the Dakota-Scott WIB and several top employers
U.S. Senator Al Franken and U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar toured the Uponor North America headquarters in Apple Valley, Minnesota, Monday, Sept. 22, 2014, to spotlight a $2.98 million Department of Labor Youth CareerConnect grant that advances STEM education and helps close the skills gap in the state. Klobuchar and Franken were joined by community leaders and grant participants, the latter including students and faculty from Apple Valley High School, administrators from Independent School District 196, Dakota County Technical College and Inver Hills Community College, and business and industry executives. The senators took turns speaking to the group after the tour, emphasizing the importance of partnerships in providing educational and career opportunities in STEM-related fields.
ISD 196 is the lead on the funded program, E³ STEM (Exploration, Education, Employment in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). Other partners on the DOL grant include:
Local Education Agency
Local Workforce Investment System
Institutions of Higher Education
The E³ STEM program targets occupations in computer science and information technology (IT), engineering, energy technology, and biomedical technology. Partners in the grant provided more than $2.33 million in matching funds.
Randy Olson, associate dean of design and technology at DCTC, noted that workplace readiness is the key element to the college’s mission. “I can’t think of a more relevant way to achieve that mission than to create pathways for high school students to get realistic, firsthand views of career opportunities,” Olson said. “The E³ STEM grant is a perfect example of providing an on-ramp to a meaningful career.”
Michael Bolsoni, assistant principal at Apple Valley High School, reported that his school is excited to fill a pivotal role in the partnership. “The E³ STEM program provides an opportunity for our students to earn college credits and explore STEM careers, leading them on a path to jobs in high-demand fields,” Bolsoni said. “The student and community response has been overwhelmingly positive, and we are looking forward to the many great opportunities that await our E³ STEM students.”
E³ STEM benefits to colleges
- Student participation in program pathways
- Deeper curriculum development input
- Retention and completion
- Graduate placement rates
E³ STEM benefits to employers and workforce
- Curriculum input
- Opportunity to impact workforce skills
- Opportunity to prepare students for employment at corporate site
- Cost benefit to employee search processes
E³ STEM benefits to Apple Valley High School and ISD 196
- Fuels a comprehensive STEM initiative
- Provides dedicated faculty to lead STEM initiative
- Supports STEM team to plan and implement STEM initiative
- Builds industry partnerships
- Increases opportunities for E³ STEM participants—and ultimately all ISD 196 students
- Offers concurrent credits for grant participants
- Allows students to explore a broad spectrum of career fields
Anne Johnson, interim associate vice president of strategic initiatives at Inver Hills and DCTC, related that the E³ STEM program presents 1,000 students in grades 11–14 with a pathway to employment in the high-growth H-1B STEM industry.
“E³ STEM offers students concurrent enrollment for college credit, industry credentialing and general education courses required for associate’s degrees,” Johnson said.
Johnson added that local, national and global employer partners are providing participants with career exploration and real-world work experiences, including job shadowing, field trips, mentorships, internships and more. E³ STEM is open to all students regardless of grade point average or other academic qualifiers. The program will focus on recruiting underrepresented students (students of color, low-income students, first-generation college students, female students, students with disabilities, and/or English Language Learners).
“E³ STEM will operate in a learning community format at both secondary and postsecondary levels,” Johnson said. “Participants will have access to multiple wraparound supports, as well as academic and career counseling throughout the program. The rich history of collaboration among partners will underpin E³ STEM, helping to ensure successful program delivery and positive student outcomes.”
Top photo: Senator Klobuchar and Senator Franken with Apple Valley High School students (left to right) Yassin Abasher, Cameron Kirksey and London Jackson
For more information about the E³ STEM grant, contact:
Anne S. Johnson, M.B.A.
Interim Associate Vice President of Strategic Initiatives
Inver Hills Community College & Dakota County Technical College
Federal and State Program Specialist
Independent School District 196
Dakota-Scott Workforce Investment Board