Helping schools form stronger connections with their communities has been part of the Consortium’s work since our founding. Starting in the Mon Valley, our organization began more than three decades ago to bring added support to schools in districts shaken by industrial decline. Over the years, we’ve expanded to become an intermediary and convener of stakeholders serving 85+ socio-economically and geographically diverse districts across Pennsylvania.
Throughout that time, we’ve worked with businesses and other community stakeholders to bring enrichment opportunities to students, provide professional development for educators, and help school districts build leadership capacity. In doing so, we’ve also played a pivotal role in economic development, helping connect the region’s employers with the next generation of workers.
Building on that foundation, we began seven years ago to focus on “Future Readiness.” We did so because the velocity of change — in the economy, in technology, in the whole world around us — is transforming what “readiness” means for students with breathtaking speed. Educators are challenged not just to prepare them with academic competencies, but also with the transferrable skills they’ll need for jobs that may not yet even exist. Because of that, we’ve designed programming and professional development opportunities to help both students and educators learn about changing post-secondary education options, explore today’s high-demand jobs, and learn about the careers employers envision tomorrow.
Following are some of the steps we took to establish our focus on “future readiness” and a few of the opportunities we’ve created around it for schools.
The Consortium has long created cohorts or networks of districts around common interests, or brought them together to address common challenges. In recent years, we’ve facilitated Future Ready Alliance, for educators working on ways to help students meet standards for career readiness. We created a Collaborative for Student Success among districts that aimed to better engage families, increase future readiness opportunities for students, and improve school design. And we facilitated EdLeaders Pittsburgh for administrators in under-resourced districts to work together to address challenges they have in common.
Almost all of the Consortium’s programs offer credit toward continuing education and always have. Whether we’re giving a webinar on a single topic, holding workshop to help build a skillset, or facilitating a professional learning community among educators focused on common concerns or shared interests, we supply research and other resources to support their professional development.
Scenes from the Bridges to College Success event we co-hosted with University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg.
Our Educator in the Workforce program created opportunities for educators to visit and learn about regional employers, including Covestro, PNC Financial Group, Mascaro Construction Co., and others.
Our career exploration and leadership development program, The Future Is Mine (TFIM), has helped thousands of students begin to imagine their futures through workplace visits; team projects that connect them with community and help develop soft skills; and, opportunities to exchange ideas with peers from diverse districts spanning rural, urban, and suburban communities.
Teams of educators in our Future Ready Alliance undertake initiatives to improve career readiness for students in their districts.
We launched a Future Ready Partnerships initiative to bring post-secondary partners, employers, and K-12 educators together to encourage collaboration among them.