Lindsay Hansen, PR Consultant
The Greater Phoenix Chamber Foundation and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation helps Arizona high school students earn associate’s degrees and increase manufacturing career opportunities
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 25, 2022
PHOENIX, Ariz. – The Greater Phoenix Chamber Foundation’s strategic education initiative ElevateEdAZ is proud to announce our participation in Accelerate ED: Seamless Pathways to Degrees and Careers. This initiative is a part of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and seeks to blur the lines between high school and higher education and career learning experiences, allowing students to earn a career-aligned credential or degree by the end of one additional year after high school.
Together, with 11 other Accelerate ED grantees representing diverse communities and labor markets, ElevateEdAZ will focus on redesigning K-12 and higher ed structures to strengthen local schools, higher education, community-based organizations, and employer partnerships. This will align common goals to determine what experiences and opportunities all students should have in grades 9-13 and identify innovative ways to increase access to reach all students.
ElevateEdAZ will seek to scale existing initiatives in the Greater Phoenix region to ensure more students obtain an associate degree by the end of one additional year after high school graduation and are set on a path to future economic opportunity with a $175,000 grant received from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
ElevateEdAZ aims to develop and sustain robust, vertically aligned education-to-workforce learning pathways and create a more qualified, diverse workforce through the braiding of a high school education curriculum with economic and workforce priorities. Already in five high schools in Phoenix and Mesa, the initiative is laser-focused on increasing the attainment of industry-recognized credentials and post-secondary credit.
“Accelerate ED’s mission and generous funding make it an ideal partner to expand ElevateEdAZ’s reach. Thanks to this support, the Greater Phoenix Chamber Foundation will reach more students, helping them prepare to excel in Arizona’s high-wage, high-skills, and high-demand advanced manufacturing careers.” – Todd Sanders, President & CEO – Greater Phoenix Chamber Foundation.
ElevateEdAZ and all Accelerate ED grantees are participating in a six-month design sprint to learn from each other and find practical solutions to the barriers that currently limit these opportunities from being available to all students. This sprint includes technical assistance and individualized coaching from community-based organizations that can help strengthen partnerships across K-12, higher education, local employers, and youth-serving organizations and ensure that students are heard and centered in this work.
ElevateEdAZ will use advanced manufacturing as a model industry to help students earn 30 credits of dual enrollment toward manufacturing degrees at Maricopa County Community Colleges and attain an associate’s degree within a year of graduating high school.
In collaboration with Phoenix Union High School District, Mesa Public Schools, and Maricopa County Community College District, the Greater Phoenix Chamber Foundation will replicate this pathway developed in Mesa Public Schools at other high schools in Phoenix Union High School District and provide a demonstrative model to other districts throughout the state to meet the needs of the industry in Arizona.
“We must invest in Arizona’s future workforce today, and that is exactly what ElevateEdAZ is doing. Accelerate ED shares a similar mission on a national scale. We are thankful for this funding and excited to work alongside the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help high school students earn associate’s degrees. The impact of early degree attainment will be monumental in ensuring that our advanced manufacturing talent pipeline is strong, and students are given the skills they need to thrive,” – Jennifer Mellor, Chief Innovation Officer – Greater Phoenix Chamber Foundation.
Research shows that these efforts are especially critical for Black and Latino students and students from low-income backgrounds who have historically had less access to high-quality career-aligned education pathways. In addition, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact college enrollment and student performance, there is an urgent need to invest in bridges across K-12, higher education, and the workforce to bring high school, college, and career pathways into tighter alignment.
About the Greater Phoenix Chamber Foundation
The Greater Phoenix Chamber Foundation (the Foundation) convenes and catalyzes business, education, and community to enhance college and career readiness, develop a stronger workforce, and build healthier communities throughout Arizona and catalyzes business, education, and community to enhance college and career readiness, develop a stronger workforce, and build healthier communities throughout Arizona.
The Foundation, a 501c3 nonprofit organization, leads the charitable and education initiatives of the Greater Phoenix Chamber under the four pillars of education, workforce development, wellness, and research. Through strong alignment between education, business, and community, the Foundation prepares individuals for college and career and serves as an intermediary to convey workforce needs and champion scalable workforce solutions. In addition, the Foundation makes Arizona and the Greater Phoenix region known as destinations for healthy talent and healthy communities through workplace wellness efforts and publishes data-driven research to inform policymakers, business leaders, and the general public.