Lillian Grate

Consortium welcomes new Board member

The Consortium in January appointed Lillian Grate to its Board. She currently serves as Shadyside Academy’s Director of Inclusion, Equity & Community Relations.

Grate brings a background not just in diversity, equity, and inclusion, but also in mental health. She is a state Licensed Professional Counselor and, immediately prior to joining Shadyside, served as a Community Trauma Fellow at Neighborhood Allies.  Before that, she spent five years as a Mental Health Therapist with Renewal Treatment, Inc., a nonprofit, community-based outpatient mental health clinic.

“We are excited to welcome Lillian to the Consortium’s board,” said the Consortium’s Executive Director, Mary Kay Babyak. “Her specific background in diversity, equity, inclusion and mental health will make a significant contribution to the Consortium’s mission and work. We look forward to having her share her valuable insights and knowledge through her role on the board.”

Snack & Learns offer career learning opportunities

The Consortium’s Snack & Learn series continues this month with presentations from representatives of Duquesne Light, Elliott Group and Waynesburg University. Students and educators can learn more and register using this flyer.

The Duquesne Light session will give students opportunities to learn about in careers in the utility industry and about the company’s Electrical Distribution Technician training program. The session with Elliott Group will focus on manufacturing and Waynesburg University’s session will help students with planning for college in the era of COVID-19.

Snack & Learns are one way the Consortium continues to support students directly during the pandemic.

Check out two new videos in Career Journeys!

Following a week-long holiday break, the Consortium is again adding videos weekly again.Among our latest entries is Anu Jain, PhD, Executive Director of Pittsburgh Mayor Peduto’s Gender Equity Commission, which helps raise awareness of gender equity issues and helps catalyze new initiatives around them.

Also new to our collection is Rose Flowers, Community Engagement Manager for the Nine Mile Run Watershed Association, which builds awareness, support and involvement for the environment in the watershed and for environmental equity.





Champions of Learning Awards presented in six categories

At a virtual awards event, The Consortium for Public Education and United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania honored six individuals with Champions of Learning Awards for contributions they make professionally or as volunteers to support outstanding learning experiences and activities for youth across southwestern Pennsylvania. The awards video can be replayed online. “Along with our other finalists, all of these professionals contribute both through their work …
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Alliance hosts second SEL webinar

A school climate specialist from the education consulting and research firm, WestEd, shared tips in a webinar this week that educators can use to help students—and themselves—minimize the emotional upheaval COVID-19 has caused so many people. In a presentation titled “Creating a Culture of Care in Education,” Jenny Bentz gave the suggestions  at our Future Ready Alliance’s second webinar on social and emotional learning (SEL.) …
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TFIM offering “Snack & Learn” series

Our career exploration program, The Future Is Mine (TFIM) hosted a lineup of “Snack & Learn” sessions for participants over the past month, with plans to expand it as the year goes on. Presentations so far featured representatives from Citizens Bank, Allegheny Land Trust and Penn State University.

“We had a nice mix of speakers and we’re planning more,” said Consortium Program Director Gina Barrett, who co-manages TFIM with Jenn Sethman. “The Snack & Learn concept gives us a chance to support students with access to professionals for career insights and help our community partners showcase their organizations.”

To begin the series, “We had people sharing insights on environmental careers, banking and personal finance, and different options for post-secondary education,” added Sethman, also a Program Director. “Access to professionals in different fields helps broaden students’ thinking about the ways their own interests might lead to careers and can help them plan the steps to prepare for them.”

Citizens’ High School Relationships Manager, Osamase Ekhator and Kate Walsh, Relationship Manager, helped students understand the fundamentals of banking and shared insights about planning their financial futures.

Allegheny Land Trust’s Senior Director of Education and Curriculum, Julie Travaglini, talked about careers other than veterinary science and education that might interest students who like working with kids, animals or in the outdoors.

Debra Roach, Director of Continuing Education and Business Instructor at Penn State’s Beaver campus, helped students think about different paths for post-secondary education.

Most of presentations from last month and going forward will be recorded and made available to TFIM participants who were not able to attend the live sessions, as well as to schools participating in our Future Ready Alliance.








Alliance hosts SEL webinar with Christina Pate, PhD

Christina Pate, PhD

Our Future Ready Alliance is planning a second webinar on social and emotional learning (SEL), the latest featuring Christina Pate, PhD, Senior Research Associate at WestEd and Deputy Director of the U.S. Department of Education’s Center to Improve Social & Emotional Learning and School Safety.

Pate, whose expertise spans education, public health, wellness and social services, is expected to share evidence-based ideas for creating safe and supportive environments; fostering self-care and collective care; and promoting stakeholder communication, collaboration and co-design.

The webinar takes place at 1 pm, Wednesday, December 9. Although hosted by the Alliance, the webinar is open to all educators. Registration is available online.

The session with Pate follows an October webinar on social and emotional learning with Eva Allen, EdD., who developed an award-winning theory of “Cultural Care.”  A recording of Allen’s presentation is available online.


Educator in the Workforce offers apprenticeship webinar

Educators often are surprised to learn that building trade apprenticeship programs enable students to earn paychecks while they’re still learning. They’re also always interested to learn what the admission requirements are.

Both were among the key takeaways when our Educator in the Workforce program hosted a webinar with Ironworkers Local 3 Apprentice & Training Center.

Rick Pireaux, the Center’s Assistant Director, said apprentices working on jobs in Allegheny. County as part of the program start at around $20+ an hour, roughly 55% of the journeyman level they’ll reach when they complete the program in four or five years. Additionally, trainees get a full benefit package worth about $32/hour.

“It means we’re paying $53 an hour before we even teach you anything,” Pireaux said.

Like the 17 different apprenticeship training programs available in the region, the Ironworkers’ program requires an entrance exam focused on math and reading comprehension. The programs also require every enrollee to have a driver’s license because on-the-job training can take place at different worksites where contractors have projects.

Mike Huber, an attendee who serves as Transition Coordinator at Elizabeth Forward High School, said learning from EIW sessions with different apprenticeship training centers helped his district tweak its curriculum to give students more familiarity with the kinds of math used in building trades.

“The program is really designed to give educators a better grasp of how the subjects they’re teaching are actually applied in different work settings,” said Consortium Program Director Jenn Sethman, who oversees EIW. “It can help them and their districts better prepare students for employer expectations.”



Consortium earns “Top Rating” from Great Nonprofits

We’re delighted to announce the Consortium’s ranking as one of this year’s “Top-Rated” organizations on the Great Nonprofits website.

Every year, Great Nonprofits, which gathers and disseminates information about 501c-3 organizations nationwide, creates a “Top-Rated” list to highlight organizations that have cleared its threshold for community endorsements. For 2020, about 2,400 of the 1.8 million nonprofits in Great Nonprofits’ database made the cut.

“We truly appreciate the recognition we’ve received from partners who helped us achieve this distinction,” said the Consortium’s Executive Director, Mary Kay Babyak. “We’re gratified by the affirmation it represents for our work, and we look forward to building on our efforts to ensure future readiness among our region’s youth and a stronger workforce for our region’s employers.”



Educator in the Workforce goes virtual, adds PBL option

As part of our Educator in the Workforce (EIW) programming this year, some districts will be incorporating training in Project-Based Learning (PBL). Others are welcome to apply.

In the past, EIW has created on-site immersion experiences with regional employers to help educators learn about careers in different industries and see how the subjects they teach are applied in real-world settings.

Site visits aren’t possible this year because of COVID-19. But employers and educators continue to express strong interest in connecting, so the Consortium is working with our business partners to reinvent these experiences virtually and offer several opportunities to explore in-demand occupations and pathways.

Amid the planning, “Some participants that had EIW grant funding from the Pennsylvania Department of Education have sought our help to build in PBL training so that their teachers can take the experience immediately back into the classroom,” said Jackie Foor, the Consortium’s Director of Organizational Advancement. “As part of the PBL training, we’ll try to help jumpstart projects between these educators and our employer partners.”

“By the time they’re finished, the teachers should be equipped with the tools, and possibly even with authentic problems, to begin PBL projects with their students.”

To inquire about EIW or PBL training and fees, contact Jackie Foor.