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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Baker-Polito Administration Announces $1.8 Million from American Student Assistance for High Schools to Launch Innovation Pathways Programs

Baker-Polito Administration Announces $1.8 Million from American Student Assistance for High Schools to Launch Innovation Pathways Programs
Twenty-one high schools also received $354,000 in grants to develop new college and career pathway programs

LAWRENCE – Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito were joined by officials from American Student Assistance (ASA) today at Lawrence High School to announce the availability of $1.8 million in grants to help high schools across the Commonwealth develop programs that prepare students for college and careers. The Baker-Polito Administration also awarded grants to 21 Massachusetts high schools approved to develop Innovation Pathways programs aimed at giving students knowledge and internship experiences in growing industries in the Commonwealth. The grants totaled more than $354,000.

American Student Assistance, a national nonprofit based in Massachusetts that helps students find their path and plan for their future, chose to award the grant to the Governor’s Workforce Skills Cabinet to help fund college and career preparation programs, known as Innovation Pathways. This is the first time the organization has awarded a major grant to support college and career pathways in high schools.

“Innovation Pathways are designed to engage students who are trying to discover what the next steps in their future careers are and help them succeed through college-level courses and internships,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “We are proud to continue investing in these important programs and appreciate American Student Assistance’s support with this generous award, and are pleased that high schools across the Commonwealth will be able to give students better insight into the choices available to them.”

“Innovation Pathways builds strong partnerships created with local employers to give students exposure and experience in their chosen field of study,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “These new pathways give students a head start to succeed in Massachusetts’ high-tech economy, prepare them for their futures and create more opportunities for success.”

The announcement was made at Lawrence High School, which received $30,000 to create three new Innovation Pathways programs in the fields of health care and social assistance, information technology, and business and finance. Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera and Lawrence Superintendent Cynthia Paris joined the Governor and Lt. Governor, along with Secretary of Education James Peyser, for the event - one of nearly a thousand events held across the Commonwealth to celebrate the second annual statewide STEM Week, running from October 21 to October 25. The Baker-Polito Administration launched STEM Week in 2018, in partnership with the Massachusetts STEM Advisory Council, aiming to inspire more students to consider careers involving science, technology, engineering and math.

Many of the Innovation Pathways programs at high schools are in STEM-related fields. Launched in 2017, Innovation Pathways give students experience in a specific high-demand industry through coursework and internships at local employers. Students earn college credits, at no cost to them, and gain insight as to whether the field is something they want to pursue in college or as a career. Industry sectors include manufacturing, information technology, environmental and life sciences, health care and social assistance and business and finance.

“When students have a sense of purpose they become more interested and engaged in their studies, able to easily see how it all fits into their future,” said Secretary of Education James Peyser. “As more students gain skills and knowledge in different fields of study, they will have a better sense of what courses to pursue in college or additional career training, increasing the likelihood of their success.” 

“We believe Massachusetts is way ahead of the curve in providing career exploration and skill building opportunities to all students – not just those in career and technical education programs. There is a true commitment from the Baker-Polito Administration to ensure all students across the Commonwealth have the skills they need to succeed in college and career. Innovation Pathways are an excellent way to provide these opportunities, and that is why ASA is so committed to their expansion,” said American Student Assistance CEO Jean Eddy. 

Across the Commonwealth, 26 high schools have designated Innovation Pathways, totaling 61 different programs. The 21 schools awarded grants today will be eligible for official designation from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Department of Higher Education in spring 2020.

“Massachusetts is home to one of the world’s leading innovation economies, and programs like Innovation Pathways make that critical connection between employers and promising talent, setting the stage for rewarding careers that help propel our economy and Commonwealth forward,” said Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Mike Kennealy.

“The Workforce Skills Cabinet is grateful to ASA for our work together over the last year. We are aligned on vision and mission to transform education in ways that leverage real world work experience as part of the learning process,” said Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Rosalin Acosta. “Our work with ASA to invest in schools and build Innovation Pathways for students is one of the most important strategies to build our future workforce in the Commonwealth.”

Schools that apply for designation for an Innovation Pathways are required to follow five design principles:
  • Equitable access for all students
  • Guided academic pathway, which, in the case of Innovation Pathways, must relate to one of five specified broad industry sectors
  • Enhanced student supports
  • Relevant connections to career
  • Deep partnerships between high schools and employers or workforce development boards

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