President Obama visits a high school to announce winners of Youth CareerConnect grants

McClatchy Washington BureauApril 7, 2014 

President Barack Obama visited a high school outside Washington on Monday to announce winners of a new grants competition aimed at making high schools, as he put it, “more interesting, more exciting, more relevant to young people.”

The White House on Monday announced 24 new Youth CareerConnect grants that reward schools that provide work experience and mentoring and partner with businesses and community colleges. The $107 million grant program focuses on fields where jobs are in demand, such as information technology and health care.

At Bladensburg High School in Maryland, just outside Washington, students and teachers jumped to their feet and cheered when the president arrived.

“We want to invest in your future,” Obama told the students. “You guys are all coming up in an age where you’re not going to be able to compete with people across town for good jobs. You’re going to be competing with the rest of the world. Young people in India and China, they’re all interested in trying to figure out how they get a foothold in this world economy. That's who you're competing against.

“Now, I'm confident you can match or exceed anything they do, but we don't do it by just resting on what we've done before. We've got to out-work and out-innovate and out-hustle everybody else. We've got to think about new ways of doing things.”

Many high schools today have curricula that were based “on the 1940s, and ‘50s and ‘60s, and haven’t been updated,” Obama said.

Bladensburg High School and two other high schools in Prince George’s County, Md., won one of the grants for $7 million. Bladensburg plans to expand its program that helps high school students earn industry-recognized certifications in nursing and pharmacy. The school’s biomedical students will earn college credit from the University of Maryland Baltimore County and the Rochester Institute of Technology. The grant program also includes paid work experiences with Lockheed Martin and other employers.

Among other winners are schools in Clinton, S.C., which will receive a $6.8 million grant for their computer science and engineering programs. Companies will help the high schools devise projects that give students real-world learning experience. The plans also call for classes that allow students to earn postsecondary credits and credentials before they graduate from high school.

A full list of the grant winners nationwide and more information is here on the White House website.

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