KOKOMO, Ind. — An Indiana University Kokomo partnership with four local school corporations, to expand college and career pathways, received $1.2 million in Explore, Engage, and Experience (3E) grant funding from the Indiana Department of Education.
The program shares in more than $57 million in funding, awarded to 97 schools and community partners statewide, to support them in strengthening, expanding, and creating effective career pathways.
Leah Nellis, IU Senior Advisor for Regional Campus K -12 Initiatives, said the goal is to build a regional workforce, with focus on careers that will be available in north central Indiana.
“We want our students to stay here for college and for work,” she said. “This program will increase the career exploration and career awareness that’s happening in the region. It will also provide new pathway opportunities to pursue and explore potential careers and earn dual credit while they are still in high school.”
IU Kokomo faculty and staff will work with leaders from the Community Schools of Frankfort, Maconaquah School Corporation, Northwestern School Corporation, and Tipton School Corporation on the Tomorrow’s Workforce: Partnerships for Broadening College and Career Pathways project.
Nellis said IU Kokomo will collaborate on the pathways, and later share them with other schools in the region. She noted that the North Central Indiana Regional Planning Council and the Region IV Workforce Board are both consulting as well.
“They make sure what we are focusing on meets the labor and economics needs of the region, so we’re creating pathways that lead to employment,” she said.
Part of the grant also will provide personnel in each of the four districts specifically to focus on career pathways and exploration.
The funding will allow the campus to expand its Tomorrow’s Teachers program, which provides education classes to potential future teachers in their high schools, giving them a taste of college and the teaching profession. Classes are taught by IU Kokomo faculty.
In addition to previously participating schools Alexandria, Kokomo, Logansport, and Western, the program adds Hamilton Heights, Madison-Grant, Mississinewa, and Tipton this school year. The grant funding allows for additional expansion in the future.
It will also allow for development of similar programs in fields including business, health sciences, and computer sciences, with participation from all IU Kokomo academic units. This gives students a chance to try a career and potentially decide before graduation if it is right for them, while earning college credit.
“This recognizes that our school district partners have an interest in pathways in various fields for careers, taking the successful framework for Tomorrow’s Teachers and applying it to other disciplines in which there is a need or interest,” Nellis said. “There will be experiential learning opportunities here on campus on in other settings, to help them learn about careers and what they may look like and allow schools to offer more variety. By partnering with a campus like ours, we can provide a course or a staff member in a way a school may not be able to.”
It helps high school students and their families understand the connection between pathways to college degrees or credentials. This should help build the regional workforce. We want them to stay for college and for work.”
Classes and programs will be developed over the 2022 to 2023 school year, with plans to launch for the 2023 to 2024 school year.
3E grant funding was allocated as part of the state’s federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief II plan.