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Cleveland Metropolitan School District unveils new program to help students find their career choice

PACE will be an embedded curriculum for grades 6-12 at CMSD. Students in the program will learn what career they want to pursue through various initiatives.

CLEVELAND — *EDITOR'S NOTE: The video in the player above is from a previous story.

On Monday morning, the Cleveland Metropolitan School District and the Cleveland Foundation announced a brand-new program to help students from CMSD find careers and living wage jobs upon graduation.

At the Garrett Morgan School of Engineering and Innovation, officials discussed their two-year, multi-sector plans for launching Planning and Career Exploration (PACE) program. The first stage involved "linking CMSD Students to Career Pathways and Living Wage Jobs."

"Creating this pipeline will benefit both our graduates and the region," CMSD CEO Eric Gordon said. "We want all of our students, whether they go to college or not, to find and thrive in living-wage careers that match their strengths and interests. And employers need qualified candidates to fill in-demand jobs."

PACE will be an embedded curriculum for grades 6-12 at CMSD. Students in the program will learn what career they want to pursue during many school lessons, career advising, and out-of-school experiences.

The efforts of CMSD and the Cleveland Foundation are backed six nonprofit organizations in Cleveland that are helping with the following during the 2021-22 school year:

  • Neighborhood Leadership Institute (True2U): Grades 6-8 Curriculum and Advising
  • Junior Achievement of Greater Cleveland: Grades 6-8 Curriculum and Advising
  • College Now Greater Cleveland: Grades 9-12 Curriculum and Advising
  • Youth Opportunities Unlimited (Y.O.U.): Grades 9-12 Curriculum and Advising
  • Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP): Grades 6-12 Employer Engagement
  • The Fund for Our Economic Future: Grades 6-12 Employer Engagement

PACE has worked collaboratively with more 100 individuals, 40 organizations, and 70 employers during the planning process. The overall goal of PACE is for students to graduate high school with a plan of what they want to do next in their career and how they can achieve that. In June, the board of directors at the Cleveland Foundation approved a $950,000 grant for CMSD and the six non-profits to use to help implement PACE.

"This comprehensive strategy would not be possible without the commitment from CMSD and the support from public sector institutions, the region’s employers, and youth-serving organizations in our community," Helen Williams, Cleveland Foundation program director for education, stated. "It is wonderful to see the culmination of years of hard work as we celebrate PACE's launch today and start preparing students for high-demand jobs that pay a living wage."

The first planning stage of PACE was launched in Sept. 2019 and identified issues facing students. The planning phase concluded with their recommendations focused around the two key pillars:

  1. Develop and implement a structured, student-centered career exploration, work-based learning, advising, and planning system to ensure every Cleveland student graduates from high school with a career direction and plan aligned to the local labor market.
  2. Establish a consortium of those multi-sector partners (i.e., education, employers, youth-serving and workforce nonprofit organizations, public sector, philanthropy, and families) critical to coordinating, implementing, aligning and sustaining this effort.

This past May, the planning shifted into Phase II, which developed the actual program.

"The Greater Cleveland Partnership remains committed to supporting the Cleveland Metropolitan School District's PACE initiative because we know that a strong, collaborative education system will produce young people who will be successful and competitive in a radically changing world," Shana Marbury, GCP general counsel and senior vice president for talent, said. "The business community plays a critical role in being part of this system that will develop the talent necessary to help our region thrive."

Currently, those working on PACE are figuring out the specifics of Pillar 2. The Career Consortium is scheduled to launch in the early months of 2022.

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