The Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) today announced the awarding of nearly $1.2 million in CTE Innovation and Equity Grants, funds that will be used by new and existing career education programs to help expand access for historically underserved students. The eight recipient schools are spread out across the state and will each receive roughly $150,000 in funding over two years, starting in the 2018-2019 school year.
"We are in the midst of an unprecedented expansion of career education opportunities for Rhode Island students. But we cannot focus on expansion alone. We must remain focused on ensuring quality of programs and equity of access," said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. "I applaud these programs for making student equity a priority so that every student in the state is exposed to the kinds of hands-on, work-based learning opportunities that will prepare them for success in the future."
The grants are supported by existing state funding for career and technical education (CTE). These funds were used in years past for schools that wanted to start new CTE programs. This year, recognizing that equity gaps persist in career education, RIDE is repurposing the funding to support schools with specific plans to increase equity of access. The agency received 26 applications, accounting for $3.1 million in requests for the available funds.
Across industry sectors, there are significant equity gaps in the demographics of students who complete Rhode Island programs, including a 27 percent gap for women in IT, a 27 percent gap for students of color in business, and a 26 percent gap for low-income students in STEM, for example.
"Achievement gaps are really opportunity gaps, because when we provide equal access to rigorous, engaging, relevant learning experiences, all students can excel. I talk a lot about student pathways, and those pathways are only possible when we empower every single student to pursue their passions and interests," said Ken Wagner, Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education.
"If you can see it, you can be it, and we need to show young people in Rhode Island that nothing is out of their reach," said Barbara Cottam, Chair of the Rhode Island Board of Education. "If we take a thoughtful approach to closing equity gaps, we can completely transform the educational experiences of students who may not otherwise pursue the exciting career education opportunities available to them."
There are currently 155 approved CTE programs across the state, and applications for new programs for the 2018-2019 school year are currently under review. This year alone, RIDE received a record 59 applications for new programs.
The 2018 CTE Innovation and Equity Grant Awardees, and the primary student groups they identified in their proposals are:
- CHARIHOtech: Female students in IT
- Exeter-West Greenwich High School: Students with disabilities in environmental science
- Warwick Area Career and Technical Center: Female students and students of color in IT
- Rhode Island Nurses Institute (RINI) charter school: English Learners in health care
- The MET School: Students of color and low-income students in finance
- Smithfield High School: Female students in IT
- East Providence Career and Technical Center: Low income students in construction
- Mount Pleasant High School: English Learners in defense and pre-engineering
Career and technical education in Rhode Island is one component of the state's Prepare Rhode Island (PrepareRI) initiative, a statewide strategy to prepare all Rhode Island youth for good jobs. PrepareRI also includes programs such as Computer Science for Rhode Island (CS4RI), the PrepareRI Internship Program, and dual and concurrent enrollment and the Advanced Course Network early college opportunities.
To learn more about PrepareRI, visit www.Prepare-RI.org.