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Rhode Island One of Ten States Awarded Competitive Grant to Support Career Readiness and Postsecondary Attainment

JPMorgan Chase and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) Award $2 Million New Skills for Youth grant to improve access to skills-based education and training for high-skill, well-paying careers

Providence, RI – The Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) and the Office of the Governor Gina M. Raimondo today announced that the state has been awarded $2 million over three years to improve career readiness and postsecondary attainment for all Rhode Island youth.

Rhode Island is one of only ten states nationally to receive a Phase Two New Skills for Youth (NSFY) grant. The grant, part of the $75 million New Skills for Youth initiative developed by JPMorgan Chase, in collaboration with CCSSO and Advance CTE, is aimed at strengthening career-focused education starting in high school and ending with postsecondary degrees or credentials aligned with high-skill jobs.

“Rhode Island’s New Skills for Youth grant is intended to turn our bold vision for improving career readiness in K-12 education into a reality,” Governor Gina M. Raimondo said. “We are honored to have been recognized for our vision to prepare Rhode Island students for good-paying jobs in our state’s leading industries. By creating pathways between our existing K-12, higher education and workforce development systems, we will meet the needs of our existing employers while also providing jobs that pay for Rhode Islanders.”

Currently, less than 45 percent of Rhode Islanders have a post-secondary degree or industry-recognized certificate, yet 70 percent of jobs in the coming years will require them. The NSFY Grant is intended to bridge the skills gap so all Rhode Island young people have the opportunity to attain life-sustaining jobs.

“We must increase opportunities for all students, including early college offerings, career-and-technical education programs aligned to industry standards, and hands-on learning experiences,” said Education Commissioner Ken Wagner. “This grant will allow us to move faster and link programs and partnerships that prepare our students and drive the economic growth of our region and state.”

Rhode Island has received this grant after a rigorous review process, which included examination of the state’s plan to transform how it designs and develops career preparedness education programs. NSFY Phase Two Funding will support the execution of a three-year action plan titled PrepareRI. PrepareRI is a significant expansion of the Prepare RI Dual Enrollment Fund that allows high school students to receive both high school and college credits at no cost to them or their families. With the support of the NSFY grant, the PrepareRI effort will broaden to focus on providing comprehensive academic opportunities, life skills, and career preparation to all RI students through programs, pathways, and work-based experiences that develop their passions, potential, and promise. The hallmark of this plan is that, by 2020, all Rhode Island youth will have access to work-based learning and advanced coursework opportunities in every Rhode Island high school.

The Prepare RI plan is committed to four specific goals: (1) K-12, higher education, and business alignment; (2) demand-driven programs and investments targeted towards Rhode Island’s growing industry clusters; (3) student-centered and personalized learning opportunities that help young people develop interests and talents, consider options for the future, and allow on- and off-ramps for evolving interests; and (4) a commitment to performance management, accountability, and continuous improvement to achieve these goals.

The state will partner with the employer community to establish authentic opportunities for all students to participate in real-world work settings that are aligned with Rhode Island’s high-skill, high-demand fields. These opportunities will include job shadowing, internships, and apprenticeships, and will count for academic credit toward graduation.

Additional highlights of PrepareRI:

  • Better integration of rigorous academic programs and career and technical education programs
  • Enhanced career readiness professional development opportunities and reduced barriers to recruiting industry professionals into schools
  • Acceleration of student learning through dual enrollment programs
  • Expanded mission and purview of workforce development entities
  • More robust career information and advising systems, including a one-stop web-based portal
  • Policies that incentivize and make it easier for businesses to connect to youth

“Preparing our youth for high-quality and in-demand careers is critical to the future strength of our communities,” said Rick MacDonald, head of Commercial Banking in New England for JPMorgan Chase. “This investment will help to open more career pathways and give more young people the chance to learn, compete, and succeed.”

The PrepareRI grant was developed by a Career Readiness Working Group composed of over 75 public stakeholders, including employers, educators, and non-profit leaders, who met biweekly from June through September to fully identify and vet the specific strengths and gaps of the state’s career preparation system.

“On behalf of the Board of Education, I congratulate RIDE, the Governor’s Office, and the countless business leaders and educators who supported the attainment of this grant. These dollars will support the critical work of ensuring our young people are prepared for the jobs of the future,” said Barbara S. Cottam, Chair of the Board of Education.

Daniel P. McConaghy, Chair of the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education, adds. “The Council is so pleased that this grant will provide more opportunities for Rhode Island’s young people to connect with our State’s business leaders in top industries and expose them to work experiences that allow them to explore their interests and passions.”

In March 2016, JPMorgan Chase and CCSSO awarded Rhode Island a $100,000 grant as part of the first phase of the New Skills for Youth initiative for planning and early implementation of long-term career readiness education programs that align with the needs of Rhode Island employers. In total, 24 states and the District of Columbia received Phase I grants.

The grant awarded today represents the second phase of the New Skills for Youth initiative, which provides ten of the original 24 recipients with funding to execute the career-readiness plans they developed during the first phase.


The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) is a nonpartisan, nationwide, nonprofit organization of public officials who head departments of elementary and secondary education in the states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity, and five U.S. extra-state jurisdictions. CCSSO provides leadership, advocacy, and technical assistance on major educational issues. The Council seeks member consensus on major educational issues and expresses their views to civic and professional organizations, federal agencies, Congress, and the public.

About JPMorgan Chase & Co.
JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) is a leading global financial services firm with assets of $2.5 trillion and operations worldwide. The Firm is a leader in investment banking, financial services for consumers and small businesses, commercial banking, financial transaction processing, and asset management. A component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, JPMorgan Chase & Co. serves millions of consumers in the United States and many of the world's most prominent corporate, institutional and government clients under its J.P. Morgan and Chase brands. The firm uses its global resources, expertise, insights, and scale to address some of the most urgent challenges facing communities around the world including the need for increased economic opportunity. Information about JPMorgan Chase & Co. is available at www.jpmorganchase.com.