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Richland School District Two will share a $6.9 million federal grant to redesign high school classrooms and incorporate career-readiness in the curriculum.
The school was awarded one of the largest grants through the Youth CareerConnect competition funded and administered by the U.S. Labor Department to improve the workforce.
“We know that employers are looking for highly skilled and specialized workers in this economy and this grant will help our school district prepare students to fill high-demand jobs in engineering and computer science,” said Richland Two Superintendent Debbie Hamm.
Richland Two will partner with Laurens County School districts 55 and 56 to form the Carolina Alliance for Technology program. Four high schools within the districts, Ridge View and Westwood high schools in Richland Two, Laurens High School in Laurens 55 and Clinton High School in Laurens 56, will participate in the program.
The high schools in the Carolina Alliance for Technology program will restructure their institutional calendars to expand individual learning time and work with corporate partners to design project-based learning experiences modeled on real-world challenges.
Several businesses have signed up to offer internships, job shadowing, mentoring and professional development through the program. Partner companies include SCANA, Intel, BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina, Moore Center for Orthopedics, Bosch Rexroth Corporation and Microburst Learning.
Universities including Midlands Technical College, Piedmont Technical College, Clemson University and the University of South Carolina will participate, as will the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce.
Apprenticeship Carolina, an organization that assists major companies in South Carolina develop apprenticeship programs, will lend their support. And EngenuitySC will play a major role in administering the grant.
“On behalf of the entire team at EngenuitySC, our Executive Committee and all of our strategic partners, we couldn’t be more thrilled about the grant and our commitment to provide innovative, STEM career experiences for local high school students. We look forward to working with these school districts to pioneer a new method of preparing today’s students for tomorrow’s workforce,” said Megan Hughes, executive director of EngenuitySC.
The three-district partnership was one of 24 winners selected from 275 applicants to split the $107 million federal grant. Richland Two recently has been pegged by the U.S. Department of Education for other grant funding for other innovative learning programs.
The school district was part of a consortium of South Carolina schools to receive $24 million in Race To The Top funding to focus on technology-based learning. Richland Two also won a $4.4 million Magnet Schools Assistance Program grant to allow several schools to partner on engineering and technology programs.
As a result of the district’s original teaching and learning models, the school was asked to join the League of Innovative Schools in March, a coalition of districts nationwide that share ideas to improve student achievement.
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