GE Appliances Provides Grant to Help Launch JCPS Talent Development Academies

Grant provides project manager to help guide implementation

Superintendent speaks to students standing in front of JCPS backdrop.
A $65,000 grant from GE Appliances, a Haier company, is going toward the Talent Development Academy initiative currently under way at Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS). The grant, announced by JCPS Superintendent Dr. Donna Hargens on Feb. 20, will support a project manager who will work to accelerate the initiative and facilitate alignment between high schools, higher education, workforce development, and industry.

JCPS Talent Development Academies are small learning communities organized around career themes that show students links between their academic subjects and real-world applications and career experience. The academies involve employers and higher-education institutions in preparing students for college and careers.

“These academies will offer career pathways from healthcare to manufacturing and engineering, and students will be able to see what they are learning in English, math and science come alive in ways that apply to their career themes,” Dr. Hargens said. “This is exciting, and I appreciate GE Appliances’ generous gift through the Jefferson County Public Education Foundation to help kick-start this project.”

The academies differ from traditional academic and vocational education models because they prepare high school students for both college and careers. The JCPS Talent Development Academies will align with the identified industry clusters for our region—healthcare, advanced manufacturing/engineering, business services, information technology, hospitality and tourism, and skilled trades. The integrated curriculum will provide broad information about a field and weave this theme into an academic curriculum that prepares students for postsecondary enrollment. Many students will also graduate from high school with career certifications and/or college credit. Studies have found that students in college and career academies perform better in high school and are more likely to continue into postsecondary education. 

The project manager position will focus on supporting the execution of a comprehensive project plan that aligns industry focus with school curricula. In partnership with KentuckianaWorks, Greater Louisville Inc. (GLI) and JCPS, the project manager will work to develop career road maps that detail education, skills and training for progression in careers across the six identified industries. The project manager will also work to develop and coordinate an approach, processes, tools and systems that will facilitate the ongoing engagement of employers in the JCPS Talent Development Academies.

The academies are created with input from local business and economic development leaders. The idea is to create a workforce with skills currently needed by local employers and to align resources with growing career opportunities for students.

“The JCPS Talent Development Academies will inspire, engage and educate students in a way that helps them better prepare for relevant careers in today’s economy,” said GE Appliances President and CEO Chip Blankenship. “We’re thrilled to provide this grant to help accelerate the initiative for the benefit of students, their parents, employers and our community. This is another step in the journey GE Appliances is on with our great partners at JCPS to educate and excite students about careers in manufacturing. Education is not one size fits all. This is a program that will encourage every student to follow a track that will best apply their talents so they can enter college or the workplace ready for the opportunities that await them.”

Supported by the Ford Next Generation Learning (NGL) Network, which has more than 35 partner communities across the United States, JCPS is leveraging best practices to implement the academy model. All 23 comprehensive and magnet high schools in JCPS were eligible to submit a proposal to join the initiative. After a review process, 11 JCPS high schools will begin transformation to the academy model in the fall of 2017, pending a $2.7 million budget request and approval from the Jefferson County Board of Education (JCBE). The transformation would occur over a three-year period. By 2020, the goal is that 100 percent of JCPS graduates will be college- or career-ready.

Through a partnership of KentuckianaWorks, Greater Louisville Inc. (GLI) and JCPS, community engagement in this process is being driven by a local launch team and a guiding team made up of business/industry, community and education leaders. The launch team, convened by Tom Quick of GE Appliances, a Haier company, focuses on aligning the transitions between education and workforce as well as ensuring that the curriculum aligns with skills desired by employers. The guiding team sets the overall community engagement objectives for the work and is setting up a structure to ensure that all programs have business/industry partners advising them and providing experiential learning opportunities for students, such as field trips, job shadowing, real-world projects and internships. 

JCPS envisions that all graduates of Talent Development Academies will be prepared, empowered and inspired, as stated in the JCPS strategic plan, Vision 2020

“They will be prepared by graduating with a high school diploma, an industry-recognized credential, and six to nine hours of college credit,” said Dr. Hargens. “They will be empowered because they will have built workplace skills through team projects and experiential learning. They will be inspired because they know what their next steps are and are passionate about future educational and career opportunities.” 

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