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Creating links

State leaders seek to promote partnership between education, business

Students listen in during a tour of FCC Commercial Furniture.
Students listen in during a tour of FCC Commercial Furniture.

Leaders from around Oregon gathered recently to discuss how business and education representatives are partnering to advance opportunities for underserved youth in the areas of career and technical education and STEAM thinking.

The Oregon Community Foundation, the STEM Investment Council, the Oregon CTE-STEM Employer Coalition and the Oregon Business Council hosted the event Sept. 27 in Salem. OCF announced a new opportunity to provide funding and technical assistance for STEM Hubs, including the Umpqua Valley STEAM Hub, to strengthen partnerships between education and business/industry.

The work being discussed at the convening complements efforts currently underway by the Umpqua Valley STEAM Hub and Douglas County Partners for Student Success.

Bright Futures Umpqua, an initiative of DCPSS, seeks to educate students about the many career paths that are available to them, whether they seek jobs and training directly out of high school in the trades or go on to college for two- and four-year degrees or beyond. Additionally, students are learning that STEAM thinking, the trades and most careers increasingly go hand in hand as technology advancements mean the trades require increasingly specialized skills.

“We’re giving students up-close-and-personal glimpses of the types of jobs that exist right here in Douglas County, through industry or virtual tours, through guest speakers, and through summer camps,” said Gwen Soderberg-Chase, UV Steam Hub and DCPSS director. “It’s vital that students, and especially underserved students, realize the opportunities that exist for them so that they find meaning in their education and a drive to succeed.”

The Oregon Community Foundation funding will take the form of matching grants, with an expectation that businesses and education partners begin investing in local efforts to help students succeed in school and in finding pathways to successful careers.

In coming weeks, DCPSS and the Umpqua Valley STEAM Hub will be examining ways that local collaborators can best make use of this funding opportunity. The work will be targeted towards building a stronger system to give kids a more interactive way to understand their career options and receive strong support from the community to build a purposeful plan for their future. Stay tuned for more details on how you or your organization can get involved.

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