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Press Release

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

States Awarded Grants to Improve Career Preparation Systems for Young People

Contact:Olympia Meolaolympia.meola@ccsso.org202-336-7071

Washington, D.C. (March 30, 2016) -- In a sweeping commitment to ensure more young people graduate from high school prepared for college and well-paying careers, nearly half of the nation's states have been awarded a total of $2.5 million through JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s New Skills for Youth initiative. These grants will allow the states to develop detailed career readiness action plans, which are an essential step to expanding economic opportunity for young people. 

Twenty-four states and Washington, D.C. secured grants through phase one of New Skills for Youth, a collaboration of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), JPMorgan Chase and Advance CTE that supports states as they work to align career-focused education with high-skill, high-demand jobs. 

These New Skills for Youth state grants are one piece of a $75 million, five-year initiative developed by JPMorgan Chase, in collaboration with CCSSO and Advance CTE, aimed at strengthening career-focused education, starting in high school and ending with postsecondary degrees or credentials aligned with high-skill jobs. 

Too few young people are receiving the education or training in high school and beyond that would put them on a track to qualify for these careers. By the age of 25, only about half of young Americans (52 percent) have a meaningful postsecondary credential that enables them to compete for good jobs, and the U.S. youth unemployment rate is more than double the national rate. 

Through phase one of New Skills for Youth, selected states are each receiving a $100,000 six-month grant, in addition to expert technical assistance and peer support from other grantees, to perform a diagnostic assessment of their career preparation system and prepare for implementation of a new action plan. 

"States across the country are adjusting their career readiness programs to ensure they adequately prepare students for their next step after graduation," said Chris Minnich, executive director of CCSSO. "States have seized this grant opportunity to pursue bold plans for pathways that will put kids on a course for success after high school and beyond." 

"We must address the youth career crisis, and it starts in our schools," said Chauncy Lennon, head of Workforce Initiatives, JPMorgan Chase. "These grants kick start an effort to ensure career and technical education systems are better aligned with the needs of business and leaders throughout states are committed to tackling youth employment."

"Career technical education can and does transform students' lives, providing opportunities for lifelong success," said Kimberly Green, executive director of Advance CTE. "With support from these grants, more students will have the chance to benefit from such opportunities, with states committed to improving the quality of and expanding access to career-focused education."

The phase one states will be eligible to apply for phase two grants in fall 2016 in which approximately 10 states will receive up to $2 million each over three years to help execute the plans they developed in the first phase. 

An independent advisory committee recommended phase one grant recipients after a rigorous review process that considered states' proposed plans, cross-sector partnerships, and demonstrated commitment and capacity to transform their systems of career preparation according to the grant guidelines.  In the judgment of the advisory committee, the selected states showed promise in their career readiness plans and indicated strongly that this work is a priority for them. 

New Skills for Youth builds on CCSSO's Career Readiness Initiative, launched in 2015 to help close the skills gap in this country. The goal is to ensure that students are not only college-ready, but that all children also graduate from high school well prepared for careers in high-skill, high-demand fields.

CCSSO's work has been guided by the recommendations made in Opportunities and Options, a report of CCSSO's Career Readiness Task Force.

The report encourages states to make high school programs more responsive to the labor market by enlisting the employer community as a lead partner; significantly raise the threshold for quality career pathways in secondary schools; and make career preparation matter to schools and students, in part by expanding accountability systems to emphasize career readiness.

The following have received phase one New Skills for Youth grants: California, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.

See here for statements from state chiefs who secured grants

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The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) is a nonpartisan, nationwide, nonprofit organization of public officials who head departments of elementary and secondary education in the states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity, and five U.S. extra-state jurisdictions. CCSSO provides leadership, advocacy, and technical assistance on major educational issues. The Council seeks member consensus on major educational issues and expresses their views to civic and professional organizations, federal agencies, Congress, and the public.