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Education Innovation and Research (EIR) Grant Announcement

Posted on October 14, 2019 • Category: News Release

Center for the Future of Arizona Awarded more than $4.1 million through U.S. Department of Education Grant to Expand Career Connected Pathways in Arizona

Multi-year grant will help prepare more students for careers in STEM by forging stronger pathways between education and the workforce systems vital to economic innovation

The Center for the Future of Arizona (CFA) today announced its award from the U.S. Department of Education of a multi-year grant bringing more than $4.1 million to advance CFA’s Career Connected Pathways (CCP) work addressing Arizona’s urgent need to increase postsecondary enrollment and attainment—particularly of high-needs students—through pathways focused on preparing students for careers in STEM fields including Computer Science and Cybersecurity.

The total budget for the CCP project is $4,162,873 over a 5-year period. Federal funds comprise $3,690,351 or 88.65 percent of the project budget. An additional $472,522 or 11.35 percent of grant dollars will come from non-federal matching sources.

In April 2019, CFA in partnership with (JFF) Jobs for the FutureLeadLocal and SRI International, submitted a grant proposal to the U.S. Department of Education through the Education Research and Innovation (EIR) program. These grants provide funding to create, implement, or take to scale an evidence-based innovation to improve academic achievement for high-needs students. CFA’s grant proposal was selected in late September.

“Receiving a federal grant of this caliber is an incredible win for Arizona and for CFA, as well as for our public and private partners who helped us launch and grow our Arizona Pathways to Prosperity network in the state,” said Sybil Francis, President & CEO, Center for the Future of Arizona. “The EIR funding comes at a particularly important time for our educational system given the latest data from the American School Counselor Association that reveal Arizona schools are challenged with a student-to-guidance counselor ratio of 905-to-1. These data clearly point to the urgent need for new models to help all students learn about and prepare for the array of promising career opportunities available to them as they prepare for their future.”

CFA’s winning EIR proposal was based on the strong track record of its Arizona Pathways to Prosperity initiative, and reinforces the organization’s commitment to building systems of college and career pathways that are informed by industry and designed in partnership with educational institutions. These pathways create exciting and rewarding opportunities for young people – positioning them for success in high-demand high-wage STEM professions – and contribute to strengthening our state and regional economies.

The newly awarded EIR grant dollars directed toward the CCP project will help to support and advance the larger body of work connected to Arizona Pathways to Prosperity. As a next step, CFA will collaborate with partners to develop a new approach to college and career advising that builds on evidence-based strategies, including dual enrollment and near peer mentoring—all aimed to increase enrollment, persistence and educational attainment of high-needs students in Arizona.

“This project with CFA will create an effective systemic strategy to fill the gaps in college and career advising that too often leave students out of the opportunities that STEM pathways offer,” said Kyle Hartung, Associate Vice President, JFF. “Increasing students’ college and career readiness and preparing young people for long-term careers in STEM will open the doors to a stronger economy in Arizona and across the nation.”

The CCP project with CFA provides an opportunity to link and leverage the talent in our communities to foster career pathways that contribute to a vibrant economy,” said Robin Breault, Co-Founder, LeadLocal. “Too often the fractures and silos in education, industry, and our communities leave families and young people struggling to figure it all out on their own. The beauty of this initiative is that we have the chance to span boundaries, innovate, and build something powerful together for our collective future.”

CFA’s partners in the CCP project include Jobs for the Future, LeadLocal and SRI International (acting as a program evaluator), as well as Arizona community college and K-12 districts that are currently engaged in the Arizona Pathways to Prosperity network.

Our financial supporters deserve special recognition for their foundational investments that helped to establish Arizona Pathways to Prosperity,” said Francis. “Many thanks to our partners for their leadership and commitment to the statewide work around connecting Arizona industry and education systems, including the Office of Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, Arizona Community Foundation, Ellis Center for Educational Excellence, JPMorgan Chase Foundation and the Rodel Foundation of Arizona.”