The Future Readiness Lab is a pilot project designed to prepare students both for their post-secondary pathway and career choices, as well as for community engagement. To do so, the Lab supports them in 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?
Part of the Future Readiness Institute, a major initiative of The Heinz Endowments and Penn State University, the Lab originally was conceived as a summer preparatory experience at Pittsburgh’s Energy Innovation Center. Amid COVID-19, it was redesigned and launched in October as a full-year virtual program.
The pilot is bringing together a diverse group of high school juniors from eight districts throughout Allegheny County: Clairton City, Carlynton, Deer Lakes, Hampton Township, Montour, Penn Hills, Pittsburgh Public (Brashear HS), and Woodland Hills. Each school team consists of students who represent the diverse demographics and educational experiences of their schools. Additionally, each team has a Lab Coach–a building educator who is a mentor and champion for students. Throughout the fall semester, students met weekly with one CPE staff member and their Lab Coach, focusing on growing in their self-awareness and leadership skills, while creating actionable, post-secondary plans.
During the spring semester, the students are taking on team projects aimed at solving a problem in their communities while building the soft skills that they need to be successful in their post-secondary plans. These projects are based on PBL principles with students taking the lead in all phases–from choosing a focus and communicating with stakeholders, to prototyping solutions.
The Lab has created a unique learning opportunity for 48 students, all of whom have grown in their abilities to communicate, lead, plan, and collaborate.