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District 196 gets $2.9 million grant

A nearly $3 million federal grant will help the Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan School District develop a program meant to prepare students for life after high school.

District 196, which received $2,990,026, and the St. Paul School District were the only Minnesota districts to receive the Youth CareerConnect grants from the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Education.

District 196 will put the money toward a new program called Exploration, Education and Employment in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. The program, expected to launch in the fall at Apple Valley High School, includes partnerships with local businesses, Dakota County Technical College and Inver Hills Community College to help set students on a path toward careers in fields such as computer science, energy technology and biomedical engineering.

The program will focus on grades 11 and 12 in the high school and will also have components for students’ first two years after high school, whether they jump straight into the job market, attend a two-year school or go on to a four-year college.

The program will start with an introduction to a range of STEM-related careers and let students explore to figure out what might interest them. They could eventually earn the certification they need to jump right into the workforce after high school or earn college-level credits if they want to continue their education.

“Our goal is that there would be multiple entry points but also multiple exit points,” said Cathy Kindem, the district’s coordinator of innovative educational programs. “Our goal is to develop these pathways to help students move into the STEM workforce pipeline.”

The district has already developed partnerships with Dakota Electric, Delta Airlines, Lockheed Martin and Thompson Reuters, among others. Those businesses will work with students and offer internships.

Kindem said the program could expand to other district high schools as more business partners join in.

For now, the grant money will help with the development of the program and with buying needed equipment.

“The grant certainly helps with the momentum of our work and also helps us continue our existing relationships with the community,” Kindem said. “We’re just thrilled with the opportunity to receive this assistance and work with others to help broaden students’ perspectives for career options.”

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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