EXCLUSIVE: D.C. Government and Local Colleges Collaborate to Meet Student Demand

During the pandemic, faculty enrollment considerably declined as younger individuals throughout the nation, confined to their houses, refused to dole out hundreds of {dollars} for digital programs. This occurred amid an financial downturn and a rising fervor for pupil mortgage debt reduction. 

Meanwhile, District training officers, more and more cognizant of the altering panorama, performed conferences to decide how they might higher meet college students’ calls for for experiential studying alternatives that expose them to profitable, tech-based profession choices. 

The finalized, however ever-evolving, merchandise that got here out of these discussions proceed to construct upon on-campus profession academies that, for years, ready public and public constitution college college students for his or her pursuit of a profession in engineering, cybersecurity, hospitality, communications, or well being care. 

These new alternatives additionally come at a time when District public college college students, academics and group members have immersed themselves in a college redesign course of that may lead to curriculum revamps and enlargement of tech-based, project-based studying alternatives. 

In November, Christa Cummings, a sophomore at Paul Public Charter School in Northwest, spoke to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D), State Superintendent Christina Grant and different District officers about her experiences on the Advanced Technical Center (ATC). 

Earlier this 12 months, Bowser and Grant introduced the launch of the ATC, by which highschool college students accumulate faculty credit after they take programs in nursing, well being care IT, and cybersecurity.

Christa Cummings, a student-athlete attending Paul Public Charter School in northwest D.C. who desires to pursue cybersecurity, counts amongst almost 100 highschool college students from throughout the District who take every day college-level programs on the Advanced Technical Center, at the moment primarily based on the campus of Trinity Washington University in Northeast. (Courtesy of City Dreamz Entertainment LLC
Christa, a student-athlete who desires to pursue cybersecurity, counts amongst almost 100 highschool college students from throughout the District who take every day college-level programs on the ATC, at the moment primarily based on the campus of Trinity Washington University in Northeast. 

Her participation in ATC adopted her enrollment in an Amazon Web Services course. 

Within the following few months, the ATC may have a brand new headquarters at Penn Center in Northeast. By that point, Christa and her friends can be nicely on their means to finishing their coursework and getting 20 faculty credit underneath their belt. 

Christa mentioned such an final result higher positions her to fulfill her aim of buying certifications and attending faculty at a decrease value. 

“I’m getting provided a free training, what’s higher?” Christa mentioned. 

“You can go straight into cybersecurity with a certification,” she added. 

“If I can get it without cost and I expose myself to all that I’ve, I’ve expertise which may get me booked. I need to go [to a college] the place I can get essentially the most cash.”

The Advanced Internship Program: One Step Closer to One Man’s Vision

This educational 12 months, a number of college students who’ve adopted an analogous mindset additionally enrolled within the Advanced Internship Program, additionally touted by the Bowser administration as an effort to join District youth to faculty and profession alternatives earlier than they graduate highschool. 

In August, Bowser and Grant, together with officers at The George Washington University in Northwest, acknowledged Coolidge High School pupil Kiera Lucas, who interned with forensic scientists at GW. For the following spherical of internships, Bowser and Grant referred to as on 300 District employers to function worksites for careers in communications, hospitality, enterprise administration, data expertise, well being sciences and structure.  

Numerous employers, together with Charles Boston stepped up to the plate.  

Since registering within the Advanced Internship Program as an employer, Boston, an engineer and proponent for trades-based training, has been ready to train dozens of highschool college students concerning the fundamentals of arboriculture — the cultivation, administration and examine of bushes, shrubs, and vegetation. 

For his classes, he takes his group of youths to varied inexperienced areas throughout the District, a few of that are underneath federal jurisdiction. 

Most lately, Boston and three college students from H.D. Woodson High School in Northeast visited the U.S. Botanic Garden the place the scholars watched Boston show his use of a chainsaw. Boston went additional when he positioned a harness round his waist and defined how he may climb giant bushes with a number of ft of rope.  

Boston mentioned these excursions usually encourage dialogue about profession fields that his younger workers may enter with no faculty training. Other subjects middle on the altering demographics of the District and alternatives that younger individuals can pursue amid an explosion in infrastructural improvement. 

Such dialog isn’t new to Boston who, for years, has advocated for the enlargement of trades-based training in District colleges. 

In 2020, Boston ran for the Ward 7 seat on the D.C. State Board of Education as a critic of the S.T.A.R. Framework, which he described as one in all many instruments pigeonholing college students into educational pathways that don’t lead to in-demand trades and careers.    

Boston ran his marketing campaign on the premise that the District of Columbia  Department of Energy and Environment, the U.S. National Arboretum and different businesses and establishments may function academic companions to join younger individuals to hands-on, trades-based training.  

In 2021, Boston continued alongside his path when he unsuccessfully proposed a poll measure mandating the Office of the State Superintendent of Education to incorporate work-based studying alternatives within the citywide curriculum. 

While he has since seen the District making an effort in that regard, Boston mentioned that extra ought to be carried out. 

“From an environmental standpoint, the local weather is an existential disaster,” Boston mentioned. “Our younger individuals ought to have an enriched training. The internship provides loads to that pathway.” 

Earlier this 12 months, Anthony Smith, a senior at H.D. Woodson and one in all Boston’s interns, hadn’t but solidified his faculty plans. However, he mentioned that studying about arboriculture sparked concepts about how to make an trustworthy residing upon graduating from highschool. 

Anthony, who additionally performs soccer, recounted having comparable ideas about his future whereas navigating Woodson’s engineering academy, one in all D.C. Public Schools’ Career and Technical Education packages supposed to present learning-based work alternatives and put together college students for industry-recognized certification exams. 

“[The schools] give us completely different programs [like] engineering and IT [and] internships and alternatives,” Anthony mentioned. 

“They don’t have what they used to have like barbering, however they introduce you to actual stuff and faculty,” he added. “They have counselors and stroll you thru the entire course of. They launched us to it since [we were in] the ninth grade so we are able to get into it.” 

Bennett Career Institute Tackles Misconceptions about Hair Care Industry 

Pennsylvania native and entrepreneur Kareema Graham lately enrolled in Bennett Career Institute keen to develop her talent set as a hair care {industry} specialist. 

Since the age of 11, Graham has had an affinity for doing hair. However, she took her mom’s recommendation and matriculated to Indiana University of Pennsylvania. It didn’t take lengthy earlier than she dropped out of the four-year faculty and pursued nursing. 

Graham additionally launched her personal enterprise, which allowed her to delve deeply into her ardour for pure hair. At Bennett Career Institute, positioned on Monroe Street in Northeast, Graham takes barbering programs. She calls barbering one other trick of the commerce that may instantly garner her revenue and lead to profession development. 

For the millennial, getting on this path required embracing her personal beliefs about what certified as an appropriate training. 

“In the African-American group, we really feel that faculty is a should,” Graham mentioned. 

“When you’ve gotten a couple of commerce, you can also make cash with out doing something. Having a license is a significant accomplishment,” she added.

 “You don’t have to go to faculty to achieve success. It’s about your dedication. It’s not about college, however what your coronary heart needs. It could be your commerce or operating what you are promoting.”

Chet Bennett (left), founding father of Bennett Career Institute in northeast D.C., and Kareema Graham, a barbering pupil (Courtesy of City Dreamz Entertainment LLC)
At this juncture in her profession, Graham has appeared to Chet Bennett, founding father of Bennett Career Institute, as a mentor.  

Bennett, an alumnus of Morehouse College in Atlanta and Howard University in Northwest, launched Bennett Career Institute in 1996 after an analogous program he served at as an administrator shuttered. He launched this academic enterprise with the assistance of his mom and different relations. 

Since opening its doorways, Bennett Career Institute has expanded its choices to barbering, cosmetology, esthetics, make-up artistry and hair braiding. On any given day, dozens upon dozens of scholars, most of whom are of their 20s, are taking deep dives into the complexities of their commerce. 

Not solely do college students be taught their varied trades, however they take part in lectures and workshops the place they discover the scientific foundations of haircare and learn the way to develop entrepreneurial ventures. Through Bennett, college students have been ready to run, and finally personal, one of many a number of District-based salons he owned upon their commencement. 

Students at Bennett Career Institute, a federally-accredited establishment, can entry federal grants and loans to subsidize an training that prices between $18,000 and $22,000. This has particularly been the case with the latest infusion of CARES Act funds.

While Bennett doesn’t low cost faculty as a viable academic pathway, he acknowledges the misconceptions held by many concerning the hair care {industry}. As he usually tells younger individuals underneath his tutelage, working in a salon or barbershop requires greater than standing up all day.

In the District, college students have entry to high-level clientele and unique occasions. That’s why Bennett stays adamant about increasing individuals’s understanding about what a constructive perspective and correct planning can do for hair care specialists and entrepreneurs within the subject. 

“I sit down with all the pupil physique. We have store speak,” Bennett mentioned. “You have to give it to them uncooked. Quite a lot of occasions, individuals don’t know the struggles of what we take care of [like] the way in which individuals assume we’re losing our time.” 

UDC Further Engages District High School Students  

University of District of Columbia (UDC) President Ronald Mason is anticipated to resign in the summertime of 2023. Upon getting into his function in 2015, he orchestrated the transformation of the native HBCU that had been extensively thought of among the many least viable choices for a school training within the District. 

In 2016, UDC accepted its first cohort of DC-UP Presidential Scholars. These college students, every of whom graduated on the prime of their class in District public and public constitution colleges, accepted a full-ride scholarship at UDC which additionally included housing in one of many newly constructed on-campus dorms. 

Since the launch of the DC-UP Presidential Scholarship, greater than 260 District highschool graduates have matriculated by the DC-UP Learning Community. 

Meanwhile, UDC developed pathways by which college students can purchase varied certifications and levels at their very own tempo. With the launch of UDC-Community College Bertie Backus Campus in Northeast and a workforce improvement middle in Congress Heights in Southeast, District residents can pursue credentialing in nursing and data expertise, amongst different fields. 

At the peak of the pandemic, when enrollment at District public and public constitution colleges, a distinguished supply pool for UDC, dropped, UDC officers explored new recruitment strategies whereas devoting assets to meet present college students’ wants.

Dr. William Latham, chief pupil improvement and help officer on the University of the District of Columbia (Courtesy of City Dreamz Entertainment LLC)
Dr. William Latham, chief pupil improvement and help officer at UDC, mentioned that the college launched programming to assist UDC college students climate the storm of the pandemic. Students acquired counseling about how to keep at school. 

An infusion of federal {dollars} additionally allowed UDC to help college students coping with varied points distracting them from their educational endeavors. 

In their interactions with potential college students, Latham and different UDC officers tout the interpersonal side of their program. This college 12 months, a crew of admissions counselors and monetary help specialists have visited not less than 4 District excessive colleges. 

During these visits, Latham promotes the relative affordability of a UDC training. 

He additionally explains in nice element the adjustments the college has undergone during the last seven years. During campus visits, college students tour newly renovated amenities and, in the event that they select to accomplish that, buy meals and drinks from quick meals franchises positioned alongside Connecticut Avenue in Northwest.  

They can even get to be taught extra concerning the varied ranges of educational programming. 

Since Mason took the helm, UDC has raised $2.3 million in needs-based scholarships. 

Within that point, the UDC David A. Clarke School of Law additionally tied with Yale University within the rating of its clinic.  The college acquired 11 commendations in accreditation reaffirmation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and tripled its analysis expenditures. It additionally launched Ph.D. packages in Urban Leadership & Entrepreneurship and Computer Science & Engineering, together with the Katherine G. Johnson Mathematics Teacher Training Institute. 

“UDC is provided to take you from the workforce to Ph.D., from workforce to legislation diploma,” Latham mentioned. 

“We don’t need you to really feel in a different way. That’s the truth of the scholars we serve,” he added. 

“That’s the tradition we proceed to construct upon. It’s a couple of sense of accountability and accountability and caring about college students. That’s our aggressive benefit.”

This article is an element one in all a National Association of Black Journalists-sponsored sequence exploring efforts that native authorities officers and academic establishments are making to develop highschool college students’ entry to reasonably priced, faculty and profession choices.

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