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Investing in Innovation

$11.5 million grant will change the game for 10,000 Central Ohio high school students

For a glimpse of what a pathway to an affordable education and a stable career can look like for the region's emerging workforce, look to South High School. During the 2016-17 school year, South students participated in job-shadowing sessions at Nationwide Children's Hospital in areas offering career entry points. Students explored possible careers, connected with employees, and learned about the skills needed to be successful in those jobs.

In school, their English, math, science and social studies teachers completed externships at Nationwide and integrated what they learned (including soft skills) into their coursework. This fall, participating students will take Columbus State classes in their high schools, giving them early exposure to college coursework and a no-cost head start on a college degree.

This is the new normal for many Central Ohio high school students thanks to Columbus State's $11.5 million Investing in Innovation (i3) grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

Columbus State is leading the federal i3 grant, which is designed to bolster college and career readiness for 16 low-income high schools, including South High School. The goals of the grant are bold: Serve 10,000 students in the participating schools and have at least 90 percent of high school students graduate with some college credit.

The grant expands on existing work, such as the AEP-funded Credits Count initiative, which provides STEM dual enrollment programs at several Columbus schools; and the Pathways to Prosperity Network, a collaboration of area school districts that gives students an opportunity to earn college credit and get workplace experience.