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New grant initiative expands career & technical education opportunities

Sixth and seventh graders in more than a dozen North Carolina school districts will benefit from more focused career exploration and planning through a new grant program aimed at expanding Career and Technical Education to students earlier in middle school.

Under the new initiative enacted by the General Assembly last year and in collaboration with the North Carolina Education and Workforce Innovation Commission, the State Board of Education last week approved individual grants of up to $50,000 each to 14 districts that bid for the competitive funding. The total funding for the current year is $700,000 and could increase to as much as $1 million for the 2018-19 school year.

The additional funding is designated for hiring additional licensed personnel in career and technical education areas, career development coordination areas, and support service areas needed to CTE programs to sixth and seventh grade students.

John Kirkman, interim CTE director for the Department of Public Instruction, said the additional funding will help districts strengthen programming to help younger students start thinking earlier about possible careers and their high school courses.

“We’re excited about the additional opportunities that this grant is going to provide to middle school students across the state,” Kirkman said. “I hope we’ll be able to build upon it as it demonstrates success for students.”

Districts receiving the grants vary in how they plan to use the funding – from hiring CTE teachers for career-specific classes such as coding or technology engineering to hiring career development coordinators to deliver and organize career exploration activities such as job shadowing, career days or visits to college campuses.

The 14 districts winning the grants this year are eligible for additional funding for up to seven years and will receive priority in succeeding funding cycles. Other districts are invited to apply as well. The application deadline for the next grant cycle is Aug. 1.

These following districts received this year’s CTE expansion grants:

  • Alexander County
  • Alleghany County
  • Avery County
  • Carteret County
  • Currituck County
  • Franklin County
  • Greene County
  • Hickory City
  • Johnston County
  • Moore County
  • Mount Airy City
  • Perquimans County
  • Rutherford County
  • Warren County

EdNC staff reporting relies on staff, interns, and columnists.