Clara Jimenez is a junior at the Detroit School of Arts and has aspirations to become a professional photographer/videographer or editor. She has not decided on a college just yet, but is interested in attending a two-year university right after high school.
“Come on over to Wayne County Community College District (WCCCD),” said WCCCD Chancellor Dr. Curtis L. Ivery.
Jimenez was a part of a contingent of students and schools that gathered at the Ben Carson High School for Science and Medicine for the announcement of the Detroit Public School Community District (DPSCD) and WCCCD’s expanded innovative partnership that supports DPSCD’s Career Pathway Initiative to create a clear career pathway for students starting their freshman year.
Instead of the College Dual Enrollment option being available in only a handful of DPSCD high schools, it will be available in every DPSCD high school. The program will have over 26 courses available for students such as Jimenez to earn college credits aligned with seven industry focus areas ranging from health care to advanced manufacturing and education to hospitality. Each high school will have a designated career pathway focusing on specific industries, offering clusters of corresponding college courses.
“We have gifted and talented children in every high school,” said DPSCD Superintendent Nikolai Vitti. “You don’t have to go to a Renaissance or Cass Tech to get an education that propels you to college or a career. Our work is about creating an equitable distribution of resources and opportunities.”
Under the new design, students can earn six to eight pathway aligned college credits per school year at no costs to the students. Some of the courses offered will lead to certification or industry licensing while students are still in high school. Other programs shorten the credits needed for an associate’s degree or a four-year undergraduate degree. In addition, the DPSCD has introduced the College Jumpstart suite, a set of general education, post-secondary classes offered by WCCCD that are fully transferable to 30 Michigan colleges. Students can take these courses as early as 9th grade.
“I know that these new initiatives will make a difference,” said Ivery. “I would suggest that we do a study a few years from and we would discover that those that took College Dual Enrollment went on to complete a college degree. I think that statistic would prove that. We are committed to the future of our children.”
Over the last year, the DPSCD launched the Workforce Partnership Initiative with resources from The Skillman Foundation and United Way for Southeastern Michigan. Their support helped to provide the initial analysis, recommendations and the framework. By 2020 every high school in the DPSCD will offer College Dual Enrollment courses aligned to the Career Pathways. Currently 14 schools are offering Career Academies (specific courses within the Pathways leading to industry professions). Career Academies run the gamut from engineering, to construction, to music and media production.
“I think his type of initiative distinguishes us from charter schools and even private schools,” Vitti added. “Very few high schools in the area offer College Dual Enrollment and the Career Academies, which should help give the district a boost.”