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"Diversity of Choice" issue (September)
A newsletter (for adults) about career readiness (for kids).
Diversity of thought blooms when there is collaboration between people from varied backgrounds and life experiences, who feel free and empowered to share and exchange ideas. This kind of diversity is a defining characteristic of a free society, and it’s something we must celebrate, and work to protect.
I was reminded of how powerful diversity of thought is when I saw the list of this year’s Catalyze Challenge winners. They are a group of brilliant grantees who put forward their visions and solutions to better connect education and careers in their communities in order to boost equity. (I’ll explain more about this year’s winners below.)
If we want to continue to prioritize innovation as a society, it makes little sense to push just one version of success on kids in school, right? The one-right-way narrative runs counter to the encouragement of diversity of thought. It’s never been true that kids can only be successful if they go to college. Furthermore, when people push this myth, they write off the achievements of so many brilliant people who are forging their paths differently…and succeeding.
This month, I’m sharing stories that celebrate and speak to diversity of thought, and to the countless options on the table for today’s kids that can be woven together into an education-to-workforce pathway. There are as many viable pathways as there are people, and it’s this diversity that underpins our work at ASA and my faith in our tagline: A path for every student; a plan for every future.
Meet the Winners of the Catalyze Challenge, Reimagining What Education Can Be
The Story: The winners of this year’s Catalyze Challenge grants ($5 million awarded this year) include the following: the National Indian Education Association’s “Building Career Pathways for Native Students” project, which aims to boost opportunities for three Native nations in Wisconsin while addressing the local housing crisis; New Orleans-based “unCommon Construction,” in which students of color participate in paid apprenticeships and complete construction projects while earning school credit; Brooklyn-based Ella Baker Institute’s Young People’s Leadership Cooperative, which supports youth in building social capital in order to drive change in their neighborhoods and address life-relevant issues; The Broadstreet Institute, which offers virtual, hands-on internships to women of color seeking to build technical and leadership skills in the overwhelmingly white- and male-occupied field of data science. (In the linked article, my colleague Julie Lammers explains the initiative and winners in more detail.)
The Bottom Line: What commonalities do the winning solutions and organizations share? They are high-impact solutions that inherently boost equity, and they don’t push a “college or else” narrative on kids. They reflect and embrace real diversity of thought. I have never been more excited for ASA. We are truly at the spearhead of the movement to help kids define and pursue success differently, and these winning teams’ brilliant solutions validate that our work — and the work of so many others — is paying off.
Tech Fuels Student Access to Mentorships, Especially for Students of Color
The Story: In this piece, which I co-authored with MENTOR’s CIO, Tim Wills, we explain that the bridge from school to work is possible because of many factors in a young person’s life that build their personal and professional connections – from family and friends to internship experiences. But inequities exist around building such relationships. This creates barriers that put some students, especially young people of color and those from historically marginalized groups, at a significant disadvantage. It’s these inequities that, eventually, end up stifling (or never allowing for) real diversity of thought in the workplace.
The Bottom Line: The inequities — in terms of who benefits from social capital and who therefore has a head start in their education and career pursuits — are clear. But what can help level the playing field? How can we get more diverse people (and more diverse ideas) into good jobs? Mentorship, perhaps more than any other experience, can change this. “Research shows that mentors are particularly impactful in opening traditionally closed professional doors for young people with disabilities, youth of color, and youth identifying as female, particularly in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.”
Youth Apprenticeship Participation Doubled in Ten Years; Equity Gaps Nearly Unchanged (A report from Jobs for the Future (JFF))
Teachers Say Politicians, Parents Stressing Them Out (Research from Teachers Pay Teachers/K-12 Dive)
Only 67% of 3rd Graders Performed at Grade Level in Reading This Spring (A study from Curriculum Associates/K-12 Dive)
From Red States & Blue, Collaborating to Create Pathways to Future for Students (The74, September 20, 2022)
MajorClarity, Inc. Partners with Dominion Energy to Increase Student Access to Energy Careers Through Interactive Micro-Credentials (Cision/PRWeb, September 1, 2022)
New York City’s Apprenticeship Boom for High School Students (The74, September 16, 2022)
Lansing School District Plans to Open a Technical Education High School (WILXNews10, September 14, 2022)
How We Can Scale Gen Z’s Entrepreneurial Spirit into Fruitful Careers (LinkedIn, August 23, 2022)
Catalyze Challenge Awards Over $5 Million to Innovative and Equitable Solutions That Bridge the Gap Between Classroom and Career (Yahoo! Finance, September 13, 2022)
Below you’ll find recaps of recent thought leadership events and panels featuring experts from across the education and career readiness ecosystem. The events below cover such topics as Gen Z career learning, professional development for educators, and non-degree pathways.
How We Can Scale Gen Z’s Entrepreneurial Spirit into Fruitful Careers - Find the link to the session recording here
Virtual Panels Identify Best Practices & Considerations for Career Readiness Learning - Find the link to the session recording here
The Critical Need for Career Exploration Beyond the Classroom - See the session recap here
Unbundled Learning and How to Rebundle Pathways – Watch the presentation here
”Amplifying High-Quality, Non-Degree Pathways” - Watch the presentation here
“Gen Z Career Learning is About Agency, Voice and Choice” - Watch the presentation here