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Promising Program Seal

Career Academies

Blueprints Program Rating: Promising

Provides small learning communities within high schools, combining academic and technical career curricula, and offering workplace opportunities through partnership with local employers to enhance school engagement and performance and provide students with the credentials and skills needed to make successful transitions to post-secondary education and, eventually, a career.

The Career Academy is a school improvement approach that brings together a strong focus on both career and college readiness. Thus, it is generally implemented in place of other curricula and school improvement approaches and can be supported with the full range of federal, state, and local funds that support core K-12 education, as well as workforce development, and vocational and technical education funds.

Improving the Use of Existing Public Funds

High schools that implement a Career Academy will likely choose to shift funds spent on other curriculum and teacher professional development to this evidence-based model, as well as allocating teacher and administrator time to coordinate and implement the model.

Allocating State or Local General Funds

State education funds allocated to local school systems as well as locally-appropriated public school funding can support Career Academies. Some states, for example California and Florida, have created state grant programs dedicated to supporting the Career Academy model.

Maximizing Federal Funds

Formula Funds:

  • Title I is the funding stream most typically used to help cover the cost of the lead teacher, professional development, curricula, internships and field trips.
  • The Perkins Career and Technical Education formula grant can also be used to support Career Academies.
  • Workforce Investment Act formula funds administered by regional Workforce Development Boards within states can also be used to support Career Academies.

Discretionary Grants: Federal discretionary grants from the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Labor can be used to fund the initial training, ongoing staffing and coordination, technical assistance, and classroom materials. Relevant discretionary grants include the Career and Technical Education discretionary grants from the U.S. Department of Education, and the Department of Labor Youth Career Connect discretionary grants.

Foundation Grants and Public-Private Partnerships

Because of the focus on a selected career or field, partnerships with employers are critical to the success of the model. Industry partners provide important in-kind resources including staff time for mentoring and guiding field trips of students; equipment and materials; staff time for organizing and supervising internships or job shadowing; and staff time for participation in the advisory group. Foundations, especially those with a stated interest in improving educational achievement and career outcomes for disadvantaged youth can also provide funding for training, coaching, technical assistance, staffing, and materials.

Generating New Revenue

While support for the model is most typically taken on as a school system responsibility, fundraising can provide additional flexible dollars, especially when the school has many competing needs and priorities. Parent Teacher Associations, business and local civic associations can potentially serve as sponsors of fundraising campaigns, and can also provide important volunteer support.