December 16, 2015University of Portland, working with Impact NW and the Portland Metro STEM Partnership, has secured a $75,000 grant from Work Systems, Inc.
The project, according to UP mathematics professor Stephanie Salomone, includes writing curriculum to help prepare youth in Multnomah and Washington counties for four high-needs career pathways: infrastructure, manufacturing, information technology, and health care.
The curriculum will be taught in a 10-week course, starting in January, 2016 and involving about 60 students total in Washington and Multnomah counties. The students are classified as “opportunity youth,” young adults ages 16-24 who have left school already or are at high risk of dropping out of school. The goal of the program, according to Salomone, is not to get them back into school or to get them a General Education Development (GED), but rather to open their eyes to possible career pathways and start training them to move away from jobs and toward careers.
“This course will help prepare youth with career skills and knowledge while connecting them with local industry and post-secondary resources,” Salomone said.
The students will be taught the math needed for careers and the Comprehensive Adult Student Assessment System (CASAS) career readiness test, adds Salomone.
“They also will complete hands-on projects incorporating mathematics, improve literacy through writing and presentations, and learn about careers by meeting with industry professionals and making site visits,” she says.
The project will serve as a pilot program during the first year, and the goal of Work Systems, Inc., is to eventually make its curriculum available statewide. Work Systems, Inc. is a non-profit organization that pursues and invests resources to improve the quality of the workforce in the City of Portland, and Multnomah and Washington counties.
“We want to infuse them with math and literacy,” Salomone says, noting that University of Portland’s administration has been a strong supporter of the program. “We should help people who need help.”
Impact NW was founded in 1966 as Portland Action Communities Together, Inc. (PACT). Its mission is to help people prosper through a community of support. Early agency projects included employment programs, family counseling, food buying clubs, and a tool lending library.
The Portland Metro STEM Partnership is a regional collaboration of public and private organizations with a shared goal of transforming science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education for K-12 students.