Initiative aims to align school districts to the education and workforce needs of employers and industry in the Indiana Uplands
Regional Opportunity Initiatives (ROI) is pleased to announce that Brown County Schools has been awarded a Ready Schools implementation grant totaling $500,000.
“We are thrilled to receive this extraordinary grant award,” said Brown County Schools Superintendent Laura Hammack. “Through the Ready Schools process, we have rediscovered a hope for our community. The Ready Schools grant will enhance programmatic offerings for our students and the community that will translate in substantive impact for Brown County specifically and the Indiana Uplands region as a whole. We are so grateful to Regional Opportunity Initiatives, Inc. for their support of this work. The best is yet to come!”
The Ready Schools Initiative is a design-thinking framework to support school districts in re-aligning their P-12 curricular and programmatic offerings to educational and workforce needs within the Indiana Uplands, an 11-county region that encompasses Brown, Crawford, Daviess, Dubois, Greene, Lawrence, Martin, Monroe, Orange, Owen and Washington counties.
Brown County Schools will use its Ready Schools implementation funding to support a multi-year strategic plan with initiatives focused on career awareness, project-based learning, employability and soft skills development, professional development for teachers, STEM materials and curricula, makerspaces, and pathways aligned to careers in the Indiana Uplands.
One innovative program supported through the grant is the development of a student-run manufacturing program called Eagle Manufacturing. Eagle Manufacturing will engage students in all aspects of running a business, including project management, marketing, production, and customer relations. “The Ready Schools process has started a deep and meaningful conversation within all of our schools and community about changes that need to be made to benefit our students,” said Chris Townsend, Eagle Manufacturing educator. “The Ready Schools grant will allow us to implement the needed changes to prepare our students to succeed in any path they choose to follow.”
Another significant component of the grant proposal was the reimagining of the Brown County Career Resource Center as the Brown County Education Hub. The Brown County Education Hub will serve as a county-wide educational center that will coordinate Pre-K, K-12, post-secondary, and adult education programming. The Hub will also coordinate professional development for teachers and collect educational program data used to measure impact for the district and county.
“I am honored to have been the coordinator for this outstanding regional initiative,” said Christy Wrightsman, former District Readiness Coordinator and the new director of the Brown County Education Hub. “I look forward to witnessing the success and wealth of opportunities that these initiatives will bring to all of our students, pre-K to adult, here in Brown County.”
“When ROI announced the Ready Schools opportunity two years ago, Brown County Schools immediately expressed interest in the process,” said ROI Director of Education and Workforce Todd Hurst. “We couldn’t be happier to see that interest and excitement translate into a fantastic strategic plan informed by input from the community, employers, staff, and students. Brown County Schools has fully embraced the role that the district plays in the economic success of their community and the region, and we are excited to see the great outcomes that will result from this work.”
In July, ROI announced that 11 other school districts also received Ready Schools grants, totaling $2,325,091. Read this announcement. With the addition of this Brown County grant, ROI has awarded a total of $2,825,091 in Ready Schools implementation and development grants this year.
The Ready Schools Design Process
The goal of the Ready Schools development process is to enable school districts to engage business leaders, community stakeholders, parents and students in meaningful dialogue about what school success means and to develop a plan to obtain that success. The result is a collaborative approach designed to support students in achieving academic and career goals aligned with workforce, with a particular focus on the region’s key industry sectors: advanced manufacturing, life sciences, and national security and defense.
In 2017, ROI released its Occupational Needs Assessment to highlight the education and workforce needs of the advanced manufacturing, life sciences and national security and defense sectors in the counties of Indiana Uplands. The Assessment emphasizes that employers struggle to find talent for all levels of jobs, ranging from entry-level positions requiring only a high-school diploma to highly technical jobs requiring advanced degrees and training. All of the employers interviewed noted the significant role that the region’s P-12 districts play in addressing these workforce challenges.
The six core principles that guide cohort work through the Ready Schools process build upon the results of the Occupational Needs Assessment and include:
- Every student is engaged in a relevant path to success;
- Students graduate high school ready for post-secondary and career success;
- Meaningful and ongoing collaboration occurs among schools, industry, and community;
- Teaching and learning are grounded in relevancy;
- K-12 schools are aligned around a common vision of student success; and
- Schools embrace the significant role they play in achieving regional prosperity
About Regional Opportunity Initiatives, Inc.:
The mission of Regional Opportunity Initiatives, Inc. (ROI) is to support economic and community prosperity in the 11 counties of the Indiana Uplands (Brown, Crawford, Daviess, Dubois, Greene, Lawrence, Martin, Monroe, Orange, Owen and Washington counties). ROI is implementing education and workforce initiatives and regional engagement initiatives for quality of place development. More information can be found at https://swcindiana.org/.