The Louisiana Department of Education’s North Capital Region Jump Start team — composed of East and West Feliciana, Pointe Coupee and Zachary school systems — has received another grant, this time from the Louisiana Construction Education Foundation, a private foundation based in Baton Rouge.
The Baton Rouge Area Chamber announced last week that the North Capital Region team was awarded the $45,000 Golden Carrot Grant to implement a multiphased strategy promoting construction craft careers among the students attending East and West Feliciana, Livonia and Zachary high schools, according to the Zachary school district.
BRAC will serve as the fiscal agent with direct oversight of the grant’s implementation.
The team recently received $125,000 in Jump Start funding from the Louisiana Department of Education for career counseling objectives.
Members of LCEF’s board of directors, Troy Allen, of the PALA Group, and Glen Redd, of TRIAD, presented BRAC President and Chief Executive Officer Adam Knapp with the check on behalf of the team Feb. 19 at Zachary High School.
Superintendents or representatives from the participating districts were on hand for the ceremony.
Pursuit of the program represents action toward BRAC’s Strategic Plan for Cultivating a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) Workforce in the Capital Region, according to a BRAC research article published in December.
The nine-parish Baton Rouge area is on the verge of an economic boom propelled by industries as far-ranging as petrochemicals, health care and digital media that share a need for workers with advanced knowledge and skills in STEM, the article said.
These industries and others like them are creating jobs at a much greater rate than are non-STEM industries, not only in the Capital Region but across Louisiana and throughout the U.S.
“We thank the LCEF for their foresight in bringing together educators and industry to provide students with practical experiences that will prepare them for high-growth, high-wage careers,” Knapp said.
“What this Jump Start regional team will accomplish with the Golden Carrot Grant is another great example of how educators and industry are innovating together because of Jump Start,” state Superintendent of Education John White said. “Students in these districts will now have expanded access to great instruction and workplace experiences that prepare them to be successful, productive adults.”
“By providing teachers with direct experience in construction careers, we’re enabling them to better prepare students to pursue careers in these in-demand disciplines,” said West Feliciana Parish Schools Superintendent Hollis Milton, whose district leads the Jump Start team. “This benefits participating businesses by addressing their workforce challenges and sets our students up for successful careers here at home.”
The grant will fund four phases of work:
DISTRICT-LEVEL ASSESSMENTS AND TRAINING: BRAC and regional team leaders will meet with high schools within the district to assess staffs’ understanding of job opportunities in the construction crafts, as well as their preparedness to offer students the training and education necessary to pursue such careers.
TEACHER EXTERNSHIPS: Teachers interested in completing externships with companies in the construction industries will receive training on two Web-based services: Nepris and Louisiana Star Jobs. Through Nepris, educators are provided with a low-cost technical platform enabling them to contact experts in industries relevant to their students’ Jump Start courses.
Through paid externships, teachers will be placed with construction-sector employers, where they will learn industry best practices, which will inform their course curricula.
The Golden Carrot Grant will be used, in part, to fund the teacher stipends, and teachers will be required to develop lesson plans that incorporate their learnings from on-the-job training.
REGIONAL NETWORKING FAIR: Through a regional networking fair, construction industry professionals will inform students of potential career opportunities. Specifically, students will learn about soft skills relevant to the construction sector including safety, salaries, the importance of drug-free workplaces, construction culture and career opportunities available through skilled crafts.
DISTRICT-LEVEL FOLLOW UP AND EXTERNSHIPS: BRAC and the regional team will visit each school district and participating high school to measure progress in raising student awareness of opportunities within the construction sector. Specific reporting metrics will include advancements in teacher capabilities, number of students engaged in construction-related courses or activities and volume of requests for additional information or resources.
“The Louisiana Construction Education Foundation is proud to partner with the Louisiana Department of Education’s Jump Start initiative, with BRAC and with the North Capital Region Jump Start team,” said Jerry Rispone, president and CEO of ISC Constructors and chairman of the board for LCEF.
“The Golden Carrot Grant is designed to recognize the most effective regional program providing students with construction-related workplace experiences, and we believe its duplication and implementation by other regional teams will have a significant lasting impact in developing the full potential of the next generation of construction craft professionals.”