East Multnomah County high schools will benefit from a $200,000 award from Bank of America to All Hands Raised, which will use the funds to boost career and technical offerings at area high schools.
All Hands Raised, a nonprofit organization serving six Portland-area school districts, plans to use the money to expand a program called Pathways to Construction & Manufacturing Careers that was developed over the last two years at Reynolds and Centennial High Schools.
All Hands plans to expand the program to six yet-to-be-named high schools with the grant money.
"We've been working with the schools to find practices that lead to more students accessing CTE (career and technical education)," said Jeanie-Marie Price, vice president of communications for All Hands Raised.
Career and technical education has become a focus for many Oregon schools. Students who take a CTE class graduate at much higher rates than others.
Oregon's high school graduation rate is 77 percent, one of the worst in the country.
Oregon students earning just a half a credit of CTE graduate at a rate of 86.3 percent. For students earning one or more credits, the graduation rate jumps to 91.7 percent.
Creating more opportunities for high school students to enroll in CTE was the major focus of the State of the State address by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown on Monday, Feb. 5.
The pilot program of Pathways to Construction & Manufacturing Careers at Reynolds and Centennial was successful. It "resulted in measurable success and enthusiastic support from students, educators and local employers," the grant announcement said.
At Reynolds High the Pathways program resulted in a 20 percent one-year increase in students taking manufacturing and construction classes at the school.
One program All Hands started as part of Pathways is called "Industry for a Day." It brings teachers to construction sites to see all the different job possibilities.
"The teachers all went to four-year colleges," Price said, noting they sometimes aren't aware of all the jobs available in construction and trades.
The $200,000 grant expands the ability of All Hands Raised to work with schools to increase pathways to CTE education and reduce the stigma some students have about working in the trades, Price said.
Dan Ryan, CEO of All Hands Raised said in the announcement, "This $200,000 investment will strengthen our ability to create opportunities among our youth for long-term employment in living-wage careers, which is good for our kids and for our local economy."
Career training will increase "options for students beyond just traditional four-year colleges, the military or low-paying service jobs," Ryan said.
The six school districts All Hands serves — Centennial, David Douglas, Gresham-Barlow, Parkrose, Reynolds and Portland Public — enroll 12,000 students.
Bank of America announced All Hands Raised as its 2018 Neighborhood Builder winner. Every year the bank gives one Portland-area nonprofit organization leadership training, $200,000 in flexible funding, volunteer support and a network of peer organizations nationwide.
"The nonprofit is being recognized for its commitment to education, equity and excellence from birth to career, and for their innovative work in mobilizing support to ensure young people in Multnomah County achieve their full potential," the bank's announcement said.
"We recognize the critical role that local nonprofits play to build pathways to economic progress in the Portland community. Through Neighborhood Builders, we connect nonprofits like All Hands Raised to the funding and leadership development resources they need to further scale their impact," said Roger Hinshaw, Bank of America's market president in Oregon and Southwest Washington.
"All Hands Raised does extraordinary work, so I am very pleased that we're able to bring forward this support at a particularly strategic time."
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