KnoPro from NAF Expands Access to Work-Based Learning

Key Points

  • Client projects is a growing trend among other work-based learning experiences.


NAF, a national network of high school career academies, launched a free work-based learning platform called KnoPro. In partnership with industry leaders and corporations, the interactive platform offers any high school students the opportunity to tackle real-world problems faced by business leaders, receive expert feedback from industry mentors, grow their professional skills and resumes, and more – with the chance to win cash and other prizes! 

High school students on NAF’s Student Advisory Council collaborated on the design and playtesting of KnoPro. From the very beginning, student and teacher voices have been at the center of what makes KnoPro so unique and effective for high schools across the country.  

NAF Chief Executive Officer, Lisa Dughi, said, “After a year of successfully piloting and iterating with our network and partners to bring KnoPro to life, the time has finally come! We know that the future is now, and we are thrilled to celebrate this launch. The world today is technology- driven and it is critical for NAF to be at the forefront of innovative thinking in support of all students. We can’t wait to witness the impact that KnoPro will have on the next generation of talent on their journey to becoming Future Ready.” 

KnoPro includes monthly challenges where students participate on a team or solo by helping solve a pressing industry or community problem. The first challenge, sponsored by NAF partner, Lenovo, called the Future Ready Tech Challenge kicks off on October 2. 

Daily SkillBuilders are 10-15 minute real-world activities designed to increase students’ “future ready” skills, including critical thinking, collaboration, and communication, and earn them points and prizes. 

NAF works with large corporations, small businesses, and nonprofits, to identify real problems their industry is facing, build engaging content, and tap into the creativity of young minds to be a part of the solution. Business partners can become a KnoPro mentor or competition judge. These KnoPro experiences help students build both technical and future ready skills that continue to be requested by employers across industry lines and are not only important for high school students, but for other employees to be exposed to potential job opportunities within their organization, and to continue as lifelong learners.

A KnoPro pilot teacher shared, “I would recommend KnoPro 100%. I like that it’s open to everybody. I love that KnoPro provides my students with creative ways to solve problems. I appreciate how they could incorporate technology into other fields like Health or Finance. KnoPro enables students to explore their career ambitions.”

KnoPro is the latest development in client projects, a trend in work-based learning

  • The Real World Learning initiative, sponsored by the Kauffman Foundation, sponsored in metro Kansas City includes 85 high schools in 35 systems that are adding client projects and entrepreneurial experiences.
  • Purdue Polytechnic High School prepares learners for STEM-related postsecondary programs and high-tech careers through a series of client projects. Every eight weeks, PPHS students are presented with a real-world challenge. Project challenges are designed by staff in partnership with industry partners in the areas of healthcare, energy, transportation and philanthropy. Students team up with fellow classmates and work together through a five-step design thinking process to develop a solution. Partners provide guidance on project prototypes, serve as panelists for student presentations and provide feedback on project pitches.
  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation will be launching the Employer-Provided Innovation Challenges (EPIC) initiative this fall. EPIC aspires to scale high-quality work-based learning experiences through a national network of partners that provide authentic, employer-led problem-based learning experiences to high school and postsecondary learners.
  • The Knowledge Society is a 10-month youth accelerator program operating in six cities and online. TKS learners work on real problems with global companies and are supported by mentorship, internships, hackathons and a resource-rich platform.

Getting Smart Staff

The Getting Smart Staff believes in learning out loud and always being an advocate for things that we are excited about. As a result, we write a lot. Do you have a story we should cover? Email [email protected]

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1 Comment

Terry Lashley

The ideas here resonate with me

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