How to Start Investing in New Pathways

Key Points

  • There are numerous ways to get New Pathways started in your school and district – many of them involve thoughtful partnerships.

With a new $250,000 state grant in hand, a small exurban district superintendent asked for advice on how to invest in #NewPathways. Following are 10 ideas along with some leading examples. 

1. Hire a business partnership coordinator for two years to facilitate work-based learning experiences including client projects and internships. Most of the 85 high schools in the Real World Learning initiative in Kansas City benefit from a business partnership coordinator. Check out their stories.

2. Create a two-year project to strengthen the 6-12 advisory system. Enhance career exploration experiences, improve high school and beyond plans, build infrastructure for work-based learning. See the Core Elements of Advisory, NAF advisory, and thoughts on personalized guidance.   

3. Invest in an updated double classroom and train a teacher for INCubatorEdu, a full-year course offering an authentic entrepreneurship experience as students develop their own product or service startup. Add a MobileMakerEdu lab and class for app building.  

4. Join NAF and develop three career academies in engineering, health, IT, finance and/or hospitality. See feature and client project platform KnoPro

5. Launch a micro P-TECH with a focus on cybersecurity, AgTech, clean Tech or health/biotech. Improve partnerships with a local community college and lead business partners so that students graduate with an AA degree, industry credentials and valuable work experiences. See Collegiate Edu-Nation for rural Texas examples. 

6. With two neighboring districts, launch a CAPS Network affiliate to extend upper division professions-based learning options including client projects and internships. Or add locally relevant partnerships and career experiences through a CTE network like CTECS. Or consider the approach of Dallas Career Institutes, 18 discreet pathways to high wage employment all across the city.

7. Create a five-year fund to support Student Project Teams conducting paid, work-based learning opportunities for high school students exploring possible career options through various hands-on projects and mentoring from industry professionals. See examples from the Innovation Center of St Vrain Valley Schools

8. Support AI co-authored community-connected projects in core and CTE courses and blocks. See Project Leo launched at Da Vinci Schools.  

9. Launch a micro School of One to support individualized pathways of co-authored projects. See SchoolJoy, VLACS and Passage projects at JeffCo Open School

10. Create a 13th-year option to help students transition to what’s next and gain valuable experiences like the Massachusetts Early College Promise.

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

New Pathways Handbook

Over the last few years, we’ve shared hundreds of pathways stories through our blog, podcast, and various publications. To synthesize these key learnings, we compiled the New Pathways Handbook, a great jumping-off point to our numerous resources and launchpad for getting started with pathways.

View Publication


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