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Joyce Foundation Grant Seeks Expansion of College and Career Pathways to Better Prepare High School Students for Education, Careers and Life



Bill Strong or Lilly Athamanah, The Joyce Foundation,; 312-782-2464    

Joyce Foundation grant seeks expansion of college and career pathways to better prepare high school students for education, careers and life

$3 million grant to four Great Lakes community areas: Chicago’s northwest suburbs; Central Ohio; Madison, Wisconsin; and Rockford, Illinois


CHICAGO – The Joyce Foundation has chosen four diverse Great Lakes communities for a new regional partnership aimed at expanding high-quality college and career pathways -- a structured approach linking high school to postsecondary education and training to ensure that students are prepared for lasting success in education, career and life.

A $3 million Joyce grant announced today will provide each community with $400,000 over two years and hands-on technical support from national leaders in the field. A college and career pathway is a highly structured approach for all students, regardless of background, extending from secondary through postsecondary education and training, and that combines rigorous academics with career-based learning and real world experience.

The Great Lakes College and Career Pathways Partnership communities were chosen for demonstrating committed leadership and strong partnerships across K-12 and postsecondary systems to support college and career readiness. Other criteria included their vision for expanding and improving college and career pathways systems, needs of their student populations, and supportive, engaged local employers. The four community areas are:

  • The Central Ohio/Greater Columbus area
  • Madison, WI
  • Rockford, IL
  • Northwest Chicago suburbs served by Districts 211 and 214 and Harper College

In addition to the grants to the four communities, the Joyce Foundation investment includes $1.4 million in grants to three national leaders in pathways programs, which will support the individual communities and the Partnership. They are: ConnectEd: The California Center for College and Career, in Berkeley; Jobs for the Future, based in Boston; and Chicago-based Education Systems Center of Northern Illinois University.

Communities in the Great Lakes College and Career Pathway Partnership will share experiences and insights as they work to advance their respective pathways systems. Their progress also will help inform similar efforts across the country.

“College and career pathways transform high school by making the experience far more relevant for students and helping to ensure lasting success in education, careers and life. And they turn out more knowledgeable and skilled workers to fuel regional economies,” said Beth Swanson, the Joyce Foundation’s vice president for strategy and programs.

Added Joyce Education Program Officer Jason Quiara: “A growing number of communities across the United States are embracing pathways as a core education and workforce strategy. With this investment, Joyce hopes to capitalize on the increasing interest in pathways to generate even greater momentum for expansion of education and career opportunities for young people.”

For example, the Central Ohio Compact is a regional education initiative created in 2011 to develop solutions for college completion and career success. It includes 15 school districts with a total of 230,000 students, and dozens of higher education institutions, business and civic partners.Steve Dackin, superintendent of school and community partnerships at Columbus State Community College, which leads the Compact, notes the benefits of pathways approaches for both students and employers.

"The Joyce Foundation grant builds on the work of the Central Ohio Compact by expanding pathways from high school to college throughout the region. But more importantly, it addresses a growing need by linking young people to in-demand industries so they can explore careers and develop skills critical in today’s competitive job market,” Dackin said.

The Joyce grant and formation of the Partnership were officially announced today at a summit of representatives from the four communities, the three national support organizations and the Joyce Foundation.

The former chief academic officer of the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, Jay Steele, was introduced as the Partnership’s executive director. Steele, who has nearly 30 years of experience as a teacher, high school principal and district administrator, recently joined ConnectEd to serve in this position.

About The Joyce Foundation

The Joyce Foundation works with grantee partners to research, develop, and advance policy solutions to improve quality of life, promote community vitality, and achieve a fair society. Based in Chicago, we focus grant making in the Great Lakes region and also seek national impact. We believe a community is healthiest when benefits are shared widely among its people, and that there are certain essentials our public systems must get right in areas such as quality education for all and employment opportunities for disadvantaged workers. For more information, please visit or follow us at @JoyceFdn.

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