This is a continuing series of stories in which we are highlighting the winning Career Readiness Mini-Grant projects.

Trinity Area High School (TAHS) serves about 1,000 students. In recent years, the school has seen great improvements in test scores but acknowledges that not all students will go on to a four-year college or university. According to Eric Lauver, Assistant Principal, about 56% of students attend a 4-year college, and 27% of students attend a 2-year college. He explained the remaining 20-25% of students are underserved by the current system and wants to ensure that, upon graduation, every student is either headed to a post-secondary school or has the skills necessary to find gainful employment. He jumped at the opportunity to apply for a Career Readiness mini-grant in order to fully integrate career pathways into TAHS’ four-year plans.

TAHS applied for a mini-grant in partnership with nearby Washington High School. According to Mr. Lauver, “the partnership with Washington High School was a no-brainer. They have been ahead of the game when it comes to career counseling.” For years, Washington High School has facilitated job shadowing, apprenticeship and internship opportunities at various businesses in the region. Trinity Area High School has wanted to implement a model of that program but lacked the funding for transportation. The mini-grant will allow TAHS students to leave campus and visit local businesses to learn about the skills they will need to get a job in that industry and how they can tailor their education to prevent skills gaps.

Upon learning about the mini-grant, TAHS Principal Thomas Samosky convened representatives from Range Resources, the local Chamber of Commerce, and Southwest Training, to discuss how to best utilize a mini-grant. They agreed the TAHS should tie in their existing Naviance software to their implementation plan. According to Lauver, “Our counseling staff does a great job with implementing Naviance at Trinity, and their knowledge and expertise is key to being able to connect our students to viable careers based on their interests and strengths.” According to the plan, senior English students will receive soft skill training from its partner, Southwest Training, who will work on resume building, mock interviews and other employability skills. Students will participate in those workshops with their career prospects in mind.

Once students have attended the workshops with Southwest Training, they will have the opportunity to visit local businesses in the industries Naviance has suggested. While TAHS is using their mini-grant dollars to pay for transportation to these business visits, Washington High School is using the mini-grant dollars to purchase Career Cruising software. This will help them to employ a multifaceted approach to their already existing job shadow program. With both schools employing the same career pathways model with similar resources, they will be able to share best practices and contacts in the business community. The districts have partnered with the Southwest Corner Workforce Development Board to assemble a steering committee of business leaders and TAHS and Washington High School representatives. The goal of the steering committee is to allow businesses to give TAHS and Washington High School feedback as to what they are looking for in new hires.