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Schools-to-Work Grants in Pennsylvania

Governor Tom Wolf announced more than $2.8 million has been awarded in Schools-to-Work Program (STWP) grants to support new partnerships between schools, employers, organizations, or associations to create employment and training career paths for students.

“The Schools-to-Work Grants program grants provide students with hands-on learning opportunities including apprenticeships, workplace visits and internships that will help build solid career paths to employment or secondary education,” said Governor Wolf.  “These funds will help ensure that Pennsylvania workers obtain the skills and industry-recognized credentials, or college credits needed to create a pipeline of highly-skilled, work -ready employees to meet current and future labor market needs.”

The Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) competitively awarded the Schools-to-Work Grants in increments up to $250,000 to twelve eligible grantees that submitted proposals. The program will create learning opportunities for participating students that will include classroom training, workplace visits, internships, apprenticeships, mentorships, employment opportunities, job shadowing or externships.

The 2021 Schools-to-Work Grants programs will operate from June 1, 2021 through December 31, 2023.

The following organizations received STWP grant funds:

Catalyst Connection (Pittsburgh, Allegheny County) – $250,000

Catalyst Connection proposes doubling the size of its Industrial Manufacturing Technician (IMT) Pre-Apprenticeship program. This program meets the needs of regional manufacturing companies for a pipeline of talent with proven competencies, technical capabilities, and work ethic and aligns to the Catalyst Connection’s state registered IMT Apprenticeship program. The program provides innovative approaches to engaging students through its Explore the New Manufacturing resources, life skills videos, and use of the Intermediate Unit 1 Mobile Fab Lab and Skill Boss. They will leverage their connections with more than 2,500 manufacturing companies, 60 school districts, and strong network of community partners to expand the program to 15 school districts and 200 students.

Communities in Schools of Philadelphia – $250,000

The proposed IT pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship program pipeline is designed to include all training elements that are essential for success in the IT field while also advancing digital equity through education and mentorship. With this dual focus, the IT pre-apprenticeship program will provide opportunity youth, ages 18 to 24, with structured technical education, mentorship, and hands-on experience that engages younger youth in grades K to 8.

Community College of Philadelphia – $250,000

The Community College of Philadelphia’s Pipeline to Advanced Manufacturing Careers (PAMC) Program is expected to create a pipeline program connecting CTE graduates to post-secondary non-credit manufacturing skill-based programs, work-based experiences preparing them for direct employment upon high school graduation, and encouraging them to consider the College as a next step beyond high school.

Connellsville Area Career & Technical Center (Fayette County) – $245,715

This proposal allows for the purchase of additional equipment for the pre-apprenticeship program and increases the number of industry-recognized qualifications offered to pre-apprentices in the program. The goals are to increase training opportunities for pre-apprentices on additional pieces of equipment, and to increase safety by offering additional industry-recognized qualifications, to better equip pre-apprentices with the skills needed to successfully transition to the registered apprenticeship sponsor, improve pre-apprentices’ scores on the NOCTI end-of-program assessment, and fill current and anticipated labor market needs in the Westmoreland-Fayette workforce region for operating engineers.

County of Bucks Department of Workforce and Economic Development – $250,000

County of Bucks program design is to serve approximately 300 high school students in grades 10 to 12 at William Tennent High School. Two STEM courses will be offered the first year and one in the second year. First, the biotech curriculum will expose students to the basics of DNA structure and function and biotechnology lab skills. The second curriculum, user design interface, will incorporate the principles of user design. The second year will be expanded with a bio-manufacturing component using 21st-century manufacturing technology and concepts.  Out-of-classroom experiences include workplace tours, job shadowing, and internships. With the Wistar Institute as a mentor, the Workforce & Economic Development Department will pursue a pre-apprenticeship using this curriculum and work-based training.

District 1199C Training & Upgrading Fund (Philadelphia) – $250,000

The District 1199C Training & Upgrading Fund and Big Picture Philadelphia (BPP) propose creating pre-apprenticeship bridges between BPP’s “Real-World Learning/Learning Through Internships” program and registered apprenticeship programs and/or post-secondary and employment opportunities in multiple career pathways. At least 80 students from BPP’s two high schools, Vaux Big Picture High School and el Centro de Estudiantes, will participate in real world learning to registered apprenticeship pathways experiences in non-traditional, service-sector apprenticeship occupations, including early childhood education and a combination of culinary arts, healthcare and human services.

First Builders Inc. (Philadelphia) – $188,308

F.B.I. is partnering with Building 21 High School to implement the trades pre-apprenticeship program. The proposed F.B.I. program will serve two cohorts of 15 students each. Career connected learning as a pathway to the trades is one of the school’s five focus areas. The F.B.I. program is a 44-week (267 hour) pre-apprenticeship program that includes summer employment, classroom technical training, support focused on barriers to job entry including pre-algebra proficiency and soft skills training, year-long coaching and mentorship, field experience through the Labor-to-Neighbor program, a senior capstone project where students exhibit their portfolios and present their learning and transition support into apprenticeships and employment.

New Century Careers (Pittsburgh, Allegheny County) – $250,000

New Century Careers will continue to enhance and expand the MANUFACTURING 2000 (M2K) PA State-Registered Pre-Apprenticeship Program in Pittsburgh and Latrobe in order to meet the needs of un- and under-employed job seekers and the demand from manufacturers for skilled workers. During the grant timeframe, M2K trainees will gain technical skills, earn industry-based credentials, and receive job placement assistance—promoting entry-level job readiness for dozens of open positions with regional manufacturing employers.

Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (Harrisburg, Dauphin County) – $248,833

PASA proposes expanding their recently registered Diversified Vegetable (DVA) Pre-Apprenticeship program statewide to help increase the pool of interested and experienced farm laborers to fill the 75,000 anticipated vacancies in the agricultural sector. PASA believes this will also broaden the applicant pool to their DVA program, training the next generation of vegetable farm managers.

The Manufacturers’ Association (York County) – $189,147

The Manufacturers’ Association reports that manufacturing in South Central PA is an economic driver. The region has more than 2,500 manufacturing companies and almost all are in need of workers. The Association, in partnership with other local service providers, is building a bridge to the future by expanding pre-apprenticeship programs throughout the region. This program is key to creating a talent ecosystem to help sustain the state’s past, present, and future of being recognized as a manufacturing leader throughout the country.

Urban Affairs Coalition YOACAP (Philadelphia) – $250,000

Low-income youth face significant barriers on the path to stable employment at a living wage.

Research shows that minority youth face additional barriers entering and maintaining employment in the building trades due to a history of racial bias. YOACAP’s Project Build Pre-Apprenticeship Program provides 9th to 12th grade students at Mastery Charter Schools the opportunity to gain the skills, knowledge, experience, and connections they need for a successful career in the building trades. The program is designed to specifically address the many barriers that youth face with a culturally competent and highly tailored approach that offers participants a full suite of wrap-around supportive services.

York Electrical Institute (York County) – $224,128

York Electrical Institute (YEI) is the training organization for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers 229 in York and has recently developed youth programs such as an Electrical Boot Camp and an Enhanced Interim Credential program. The project affords the ability to provide increased access and opportunities for underserved and underrepresented populations and will strengthen their registered pre-apprenticeship training programs for high school students. By gaining deeper integration into high schools, YEI hoped to increase gender and racial diversity in the construction industry.

“The Schools-to-Work Grants program will create or enhance local career pathways in communities throughout Pennsylvania,” Department of Labor & Industry Acting Secretary Jennifer Berrier said. “The program establishes dynamic and innovative partnerships between schools and local businesses to create employment and training pathways including work-based learning opportunities, apprenticeships, and jobs for high school students during the school year, the summer and after graduation that prepare students for life after high school.”

The Schools-to-Work grants are funded by Reemployment funds, which are used to support programs and services that assist individuals with becoming employed or improving their employment, such as job search and placement services, educational enhancement, job training and job readiness and workplace skills training.


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