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New Grant Will Help KPS Expand Apprenticeships

Kalamazoo Public Schools has been awarded a grant from the Partnership to Advance Youth Apprenticeship (PAYA) to expand apprenticeships for high-school aged youth in the Kalamazoo area through a new effort called Career Launch Kalamazoo. The $25,000 grant will support Career Launch Kalamazoo strategy development and implementation through fall 2022. In addition to funding, the grant also includes more than $1 million of in-kind support for technical assistance, strategic planning, coaching sessions with experts, learning trips, access to learning partners, problems of practice and cycles of inquiry work to enhance programming.

PAYA also will provide Career Launch Kalamazoo with technical assistance from PAYA’s national partners, cross-site learning opportunities, and opportunities to participate in national research, communications, and access to the PAYA Network, a group of organizations working to expand and improve apprenticeships for high schoolers.

“Receiving this highly competitive grant is a great opportunity for the students of KPS,” said
KPS Superintendent Dr. Rita Raichoudhuri. “Our focus on preparing all students for college and careers includes early exposure to career awareness and exploration starting with middle schoolers. High school students will then have opportunities to participate in apprenticeship programs with local employers.”

The grant will support the work of local employers, educators, community partners, and policy leaders who are building high-quality youth apprenticeship programs that promote inclusive economic development and create new opportunities for young people.

The grant drew more than 200 applications, and KPS received one of only six grants awarded this year. KPS is one of 17 grantees from across the country that has been funded over the years. With the grant, KPS will partner with Kalamazoo Valley Community College, the City of Kalamazoo, The Kalamazoo Promise, Bronson Healthcare Group, Flowserve, and MANN+HUMMEL to create Career Launch Kalamazoo, a program designed to provide KPS students with apprenticeships in three high-demand career areas: information technology, healthcare, and manufacturing.

“The Kalamazoo Promise is extremely excited to partner with Kalamazoo Public Schools on helping students find alternative paths to success,” said Von Washington II, executive director for Community Relations of The Kalamazoo Promise. “This grant will allow us the opportunity to plan and strategically implement several pathways for students to follow as they use The Kalamazoo Promise scholarship.”

Katie Dickens, director of IT Business & Clinical Information Systems for Bronson Healthcare Group said, “Bronson is pleased to partner with Kalamazoo Public Schools and community employers to advance youth programs in our community. This collaboration will help to create interest and engagement in careers in technology fields and provide avenues for students to grow into jobs that provide a living wage. As the area’s largest employer, we think it is important to focus time and attention on the future generation of employees.”

“Being actively involved in our local communities is very important to MANN+HUMMEL” said Jill Sherman, executive assistant and travel administrator with MANN+HUMMEL. “We are extremely excited to be awarded this grant and look forward to our continued partnership with the schools and businesses in our area to develop the talents of our future workforce.”