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Innovation Generation

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Dawn Sayre
Director of Career and College Pathways

The Westerville City School District (WCSD) is the recipient of approximately $1.4 million for its participation in the Innovation Generation initiative, which is affiliated with the national Pathways to Prosperity Network and supported by the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Jobs for the Future.  The program received a total of $14.4 million in funding during the State of Ohio's first Straight A Grant cycle.

The Innovation Generation initiative establishes career pathways into vital industry sectors in the central Ohio area.  School districts, higher education institutions and business will work together to help students earn the credentials needed to fill some of central Ohio’s fastest-growing jobs.

Successful completion of the program provides students with industry-specific learning and expands the next steps students will be able to take once they earn their high school diploma. Participants will be taking college-level course work that will allow them to graduate high school with specialized certifications and progress toward an associate degree.

Participating school districts will provide a different array of program opportunities for their students. Students who want to complete an associate degree or pursue a four-year degree will have a significant head start if they complete any of the program’s pathways. Students in WCSD will be able to learn about and pursue careers in Health Care, Advanced Manufacturing and Business/Logistics.

The Health Career pathway is a collaborative initiative with nine school districts, Columbus State Community College (CSCC) and numerous industry partners.  WCSD high school students will be able to take CSCC course work beginning in the 2015-2016 school year, which will lead to three industry-recognized credentials:  Pharmacy Technician, Clinical Lab Assistant, and State Tested Nursing Assistant.  In addition to traditional classroom work, the program includes advanced distance learning labs to provide a variety of virtual instruction.  WCSD students can begin the pathway in their freshman, sophomore or junior year, depending upon when they take the coursework that leads to the CSCC courses.

The Business/Logistics pathway includes three school districts, Columbus State Community College and industry partners.  WCSD students can begin the pathway in their freshman, sophomore or junior year, depending upon when they take the coursework that leads to the CSCC courses. Students will be able to graduate from high school with a certificate in electronic marketing and 31 semester hours from Columbus State Community College.  This earned college credit puts students on track to complete a two-year degree in marketing or supply chain management with one additional year of course work.  They will be on pace to complete a four-year degree in only three years.

The Advanced Manufacturing pathway is a collaborative of 10 school districts focused on preparing students for careers in computer-assisted manufacturing. In WCSD, this pathway consists of an elective course that seventh-grade students will have the opportunity to take.  The course embeds fabrication technologies in education through nine mobile fabrication labs (MIT Mobile Fab Labs) located around central Ohio, while also forming an entrepreneurship center for economic development and job training, thereby strengthening local economies.  “Fab Labs,” which will be available to students at their home schools, offer advanced distance collaboration with other participating districts. Fab Lab hubs will connect schools and other advanced manufacturing partners through curriculum, internship and mentorship opportunities.


WCSD also will gain access to additional resources for its participation in the DataStrong initiative, which was awarded $8.9 million in funding during the second round of Straight A grants. Through Data Strong, a consortium of 15 school districts and the Educational Service Center of Central Ohio will create a data-driven system to automate the complex and labor-intensive task of matching individual students with adults best qualified to help them succeed.  The initiative also will enable strategic decisions about matching organizations, employers, schools and students.

DataStong also will help address challenges faced by the Central Ohio Compact, which is a collaborative effort among school districts, higher education and industry to double the number of adults who have postsecondary degrees or certificates in four critical industry sectors: advanced manufacturing/robotics, business logistics, health care and information technology.

This initiative supports those school districts that are involved in the Innovation Generation initiative. This grant provides some much-needed technical support and creates a data resource that will be invaluable to our efforts to help students succeed in college and, ultimately, in their career.