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Bristol, MassBay, Haverhill, Springfield among community colleges given $1 million to start STEM Tech Career Academies



BOSTON –– The Baker-Polito Administration today awarded $5 million to five new STEM Tech Career Academies, a new initiative designed to help more young people earn associate degrees and industry certificates in STEM fields. STEM Tech Career Academies will launch as six-year programs that enable high school students to earn both a high school diploma and a post-secondary credential at a community college, at no cost to the students.

The administration has committed multi-year grants to cover the costs of planning, implementation, and launch. High schools, community colleges and employers will work together to open five different STEM Tech Career Academies in different regions of the Commonwealth. The goal is to eventually enroll between 1,600 and 2,000 students in programs in the next few years.

STEM Tech Career Academies combine and extend key elements of the highly successful Early College and early career Innovation Pathways programs that were launched several years ago, including technical curriculum, work-based learning experiences, post-secondary courses, and college and career coaching. The administration anticipates that by fall of 2023, more than 75 high schools will have students enrolled in Innovation Pathway programs and 65 high schools will have Early College programs, which can serve as starting points for STEM Tech Career Academies.

The initiative is modeled after P-Tech, a grades 9-14 school model where students earn a high school diploma, an industry-recognized associate degree and gain relevant work experience in a growing field. Students completing a P-Tech program are typically provided with hiring preferences by participating employers.

“This new initiative will build off the success of our administration’s Early College and Innovation Pathway programs to create more intentional links between high schools, community colleges and employers,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “STEM Tech Career Academies will enable more high school students to earn degrees and credentials and provide more young people with skills and knowledge in STEM fields.”

“STEM jobs go unfilled because companies cannot find qualified applicants for careers that require associate degrees and credentials, such as biotechnicians, data analysts, cyber security specialists, health care occupations and many more,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “This new initiative will make it easier for students who start on a college or career pathway in high school to continue on that course and go on to earn degrees or credentials, and eventually land a well-paying job in a STEM field.”

STEM Tech Career Academies are an initiative of the Governor’s Workforce Skills Cabinet, which connects the work of three Secretariats – the Executive Office of Education, Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development and the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development – and seeks to align education, workforce, and economic development strategies across the state.

“STEM Tech Career Academies will be a way to smooth the transition from high school to college and career and give more young people added support so they are able to earn associate degrees and industry recognized credentials,” said Education Secretary James Peyser. “Cohorts of students will move seamlessly from high school to higher education, giving them more opportunities for academic success, career readiness, and better outcomes in persisting until they graduate from college.”

The new initiative also aims to address equity and opportunity gaps in STEM industries. Women and minority groups continue to be underrepresented in STEM fields in Massachusetts and across the country. Outside of healthcare, there are roughly three men to every woman in STEM jobs like computer science, mathematics, and engineering, and 2020 data estimated that just 27 percent of STEM workers are non-white. In Massachusetts, just 5 percent of the STEM workforce is Black, and just 6 percent is Hispanic.

“As we continue to address inequity in our workforce, the STEM Tech Career Academy is an excellent initiative that provides opportunity and access within high-demand sectors for traditionally underserved individuals,” said Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Rosalin Acosta. “Programs like this are incredibly important as they have a profound impact on employers and high school students, while helping to create a stronger economy for all.”

The need for STEM graduates particularly impacts Massachusetts because growth in these jobs will outpace average job growth and is projected to account for 40 percent of total employment increases in Massachusetts. According to 2018-2028 Massachusetts job growth projections, STEM occupations will grow at 7.2 percent versus 3 percent across all occupations.

“In regions across the Commonwealth, students will now have access to new educational opportunities to help prepare them for careers in STEM,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy. “Aligning educational programming with industry needs will put students on a path for success and ensure our employers can hire the talent they need to continue growing in Massachusetts.”

The following schools and organizations each received $1 million grants to launch STEM Career Tech Academies:

Benjamin Franklin Cummings Institute of Technology is partnering with Dearborn STEM Academy, and Cambridge Ridge and Latin to launch a STEM Tech Career Academy focusing on manufacturing, IT, and environmental & life science careers. The partnership will leverage existing dual-enrollment and Early College programs and includes National Grid, Rapid7, and Suffolk Construction as industry partners.

MassBay Community College is partnering with Natick High School to launch a STEM Tech Career Academy focusing on manufacturing and environmental & life sciences. The partnership will leverage existing dual enrolment and Early College programs and includes Northeastern Center for STEM Ed, MIT, MathWorks, and MRSI Systems as industry partners.

Bristol Community College is partnering with BMC Durfee High School, Somerset Berkley High School, Westport High School, Taunton High School, and Attleboro High School to launch a STEM Tech Career Academy focusing on environmental & life sciences careers. The partnership will leverage Early College programs and includes Associates of Cape Cod, Celldex Therapeutics, and Waters Corporation as industry partners.

Haverhill High School and Northern Essex Community College are partnering to launch a STEM Tech Career Academy focusing on manufacturing, healthcare, and environmental & life sciences. The partnership will leverage existing Early College and Innovation pathway programs and includes Lawrence General Hospital, Whittier Health Networks, Holy Family Hospital, New Balance, and Hydracor as industry partners.

Springfield Technical Community College is partnering with West Springfield High School and Veritas Prep Charter School to launch a STEM Tech Career Academy focusing on healthcare, manufacturing, and business and financial services. The partnership will leverage existing Innovation Pathways and Early College programs and includes Baystate Eye Care Group, Each Moment We’re Alive, Walgreens, and Springfield Thunderbirds Hockey Club as industry partners.

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