Consortium and Heinz Endowments launching Future Readiness Lab

As Senior Program Director for Education at The Heinz Endowments, Stan Thompson, EdD, sees grant applications peppered with the words “college and career ready.”

“Here’s the problem,” he said in a video overview, “Not nearly all students ever experience the promise of this phrase.”

To find ways so that more students do, the Consortium is honored to pilot the Future Readiness Lab in partnership with The Endowments and eight Allegheny County school districts. The Lab, for which Thompson also serves as Executive Director, is a pilot project designed to prepare students both for their post-secondary career choices and paths, as well as for community engagement. To do so, it will support them in a deep exploration of five questions.

  • Who am I?
  • Who do I want to become?
  • How do I get there?
  • How do I continue to learn?
  • How do I give back to my community?

“Students who think deeply about these questions and find the answers within, instead of responding to external influences, are more likely to take ownership of their educations,” said Consortium Program Director Christy Kuehn, PhD. “They’re also better positioned to find fulfillment and success in their post-secondary paths and take on leadership roles in their communities.”

Announced last February, the Lab had originally been planned as a summer preparatory opportunity at the Energy Innovation Center. Because of uncertainties associated with COVID-19, however, startup has been delayed until the beginning of October and the Lab has been redesigned for a virtual curriculum.

The pilot will bring together a small, diverse group of high school juniors from eight districts. Throughout the fall, they’ll be working individually and as teams within each school. Lab Coaches, who will support teams in each school, convened last week for their first virtual planning session.

Participating in the Lab’s first cohort are Pittsburgh Brashear, Carlynton, Clairton City, Deer Lakes, Hampton, Montour, Penn Hills and Woodland Hills high schools.

Among other things, students participating in the Lab will be able to answer the five guiding questions, create actionable post-secondary plans, produce a professional portfolio, and learn how to cultivate a diverse professional network. They also will participate in a variety of virtual activities designed for interacting with professionals and exploring careers.

By spring, the students will take on team projects aimed at solving a problem in their communities, while building the soft skills that employers seek and that are critical to success.

Follow the Consortium’s website and social media for updates on this exciting project!