For three days during first week of November, we hosted a college/postsecondary task force meeting at the SkillsUSA National Leadership Center in Leesburg. This was an extremely important meeting as we brought together key stakeholders from our college/postsecondary markets to help us develop strategies to engage more postsecondary participation in SkillsUSA. This market holds huge potential for us, and the work of the task force will be integrated into our strategic plan. Members of the task force came from across the nation and included state and national student officers, alumni who completed postsecondary programs, two postsecondary state association directors, postsecondary teachers, administrators and current student members. The meetings were led by staff members, Kelly Horton and Gayle Silvey. We provided a report on their work at the Wednesday board meeting.
On November 5, the National Research Center for Career and Technical Education (NRCCTE) released a report stating that career and technical education is increasingly being recognized as an important part of public education and citing the groundbreaking Pathways to Prosperity report (http://tinyurl.com/pry82fm) issued by Harvard’s Graduate School of Education and two new reports offering more support for CTE.
The first report (http://tinyurl.com/oxh9t3z) was written by Jean-Claude Brizard, a former high school administrator and CEO of Chicago Public Schools and now a senior advisor at The College Board.
The second report (http://tinyurl.com/pelbwq3), co-authored by Harry J. Holzer of the Georgetown Public Policy Institute and the Georgetown Center on Poverty, Inequality, and Public Policy, Dane Linn of The Business Roundtable, and Wanda Monthey of The College Board, was released this past week. This report emerged from a convening of a large group of CTE researchers, practitioners and policymakers who met to identify what constitutes high-quality CTE. Holzer, Linn and Monthey examine the labor market environment confronting young people today and discuss what they believe to be the characteristics of CTE programs that address those challenges. The report illustrates the interest in CTE being expressed by influential voices outside the immediate field of CTE.
SkillsUSA will be participating at ACTE’s CareerTech Vision 2013 Conference at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada and the booth (#319) will be open on December 5 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on December 6 from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. In addition, we have three sessions scheduled, and we hope if you’re there, you’ll stop by. Here they are — Enhance Your SkillsUSA Chapter on December 6 from 1-2:30 p.m. in Room N229 and Why SkillsUSA? from 2:45-4:15 p.m. in Room N224. And, Your “Easy Button” Teaching and Assessing Workforce Ready Skills and Career-ready Practices in the CCTC Standards on December 7 from 8:30-10:00 a.m. in Room N224.
Jen Polz, our State Association Director Chairperson and Minnesota director, has been named as a finalist for the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) National Outstanding Educator Award. Our congratulations go to Jen, and we look forward to seeing her on the stage in Las Vegas during the ACTE CareerTech Vision 2013 Convention.
This year’s ACTE CareerTech Vision 2013 awards banquet will feature U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. Also scheduled to be in attendance is the Assistant Secretary of Education from the Office of Vocational and Adult Education, Brenda Dann Messier. More information can be found on their webpage at: www.acteonline.org/vision_banquet.
SkillsUSA has signed on as a partner to the “Million Women Mentors” initiative co-sponsored by STEMconnector and the National Girls Collaborative Project. The goal is to engage one million male and female Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics mentors from business, academe, government and non-profit sectors to increase the interest and confidence of girls and young women to persist and succeed in STEM programs, coursework, degrees and careers.
Other partners include Google, Accenture, Cisco, Walmart and 4-H. There are no financial obligations involved in the partnership. At some point, SkillsUSA will be counting and reporting on our female students in STEM-related curricula, national contests and the teachers and business partners that work with them. I will be attending the announcement of this initiative at an event at the National Press Club on December 8.
- The winter issue of SkillsUSA Champions magazine is traditionally our “insider’s guide” to the national championships. Technical committee chairs are surveyed each year on what competitors need to remember and what they shouldn’t overlook. The current responses are strong, and we also will have a guest column from Gary Beach, author of The U.S. Technology Skills Gap: What Every Technology Executive Must Know to Save America’s Future, who cites SkillsUSA first in his list of model public-private partnerships. This new magazine issue will go to press at the beginning of December.
- SkillsUSA has signed an agreement with Stratton Publishing & Marketing Inc./Stratton Research in Alexandria, Va., to conduct a strategic communications audit of our print and electronic communications to members. This member-based research will help SkillsUSA assess the appropriateness of our communication mix and make refinements to our strategies. Based on the findings, Stratton will develop a comprehensive report showing how SkillsUSA can better respond to our members’ information needs while providing timely, high-quality and valuable content.
- The Alumni Coordinating Committee (ACC) fall planning meeting was held in Kansas City, November 1-3. Massachusetts state association director Karen Ward, representing the State Directors Association and former board and YDF member, Greg Rintala, with Snap-on, representing business and industry, were in attendance. Discussions included the new ACC structure, quality standards for state alumni association, business and industry partner involvement and an alumni pin contest to design the “50th conference pin.”
- We are in the midst of redesigning the SkillsUSA website. We have surveyed staff, teachers, state directors and students and have a finalized project brief. We also have completed an inventory of all the content for the current website. We should have a preliminary site map soon.
- The Office of Business Partnerships and Development (BPD) is currently working with major partners 3M, Caterpillar, Snap-on, State Farm and Toyota, among others, on their partnership details for the coming year. We are pleased to announce that Praxair has become a significant partner at the $25,000 level by providing scholarships to members in welding occupations.
- A date for a fundraising breakfast in Louisville, Ky., “Circle of Champions” is set for Thursday, January 16, 2014. BPD will be working closely with the SkillsUSA Foundation Committee to identify ways to support this important initiative.
Here is a current listing of scholarships offered for the school year. Be sure to check back often as we will add more scholarships to the list. Go to: www.skillsusa.org/downloads/PDF/scholarships.pdf
The Technology Student Association (TSA), in cooperation with the Verizon Foundation, Samsung and the MIT Center for Mobile Learning, is offering a competition for students from any middle or high school (they don’t have to be members of TSA). Teams just need a faculty advisor to submit the entry.
To begin, gather a team of five to seven students who wish to creatively solve a problem in your school or community by developing a mobile app that incorporates STEM principles and content. (Bonus points will be given for apps that address education, healthcare, or energy conservation.) More than one team is permitted from a school. Register by December 17 at: www.verizonfoundation.org/appchallenge.
Then prepare a three-minute video describing the app and how it will function. Submit an essay that demonstrates the team’s understanding of the design process, the app’s functionality, and its potential impact or outcome. And, submit a form signed by the school’s principal or administrator agreeing to the Challenge’s rules and use of the prize money.
Eight winning schools will receive a $20,000 cash grant. Plus, the students retain intellectual property rights to the app, which can be brought to the open market. And, each student on a winning team gets a Samsung Galaxy tablet and is invited to attend the 2014 National TSA Conference in Washington, D.C. in June to present their app to more than 5,000 attendees.
Because SkillsUSA is a certifying organization of the President’s Volunteer Service Award, advisors, student members and registered alumni can earn recognition for community service activities and time spent as a volunteer.
This award is a presidential honor that recognizes the valuable contributions of volunteers nationwide who are answering a national call to serve others through their current volunteer activities or lifetime service. As a certifying organization, SkillsUSA can identify eligible recipients, verify their service hours and distribute the award to outstanding volunteers.
Given participation in ongoing service activities, advisors and students may already meet the requirements to receive the award. To qualify, SkillsUSA members, advisors or alumni can submit a record of their service hours. State directors are also encouraged to document service hours and apply for the award.
For details on qualifying hours and requirements for submission, visit: www.skillsusa.org/students/volsvc.shtml. Applications must be received (not postmarked) by April 1, 2014.
The Women’s Industry Network (WIN) offers scholarships that will provide tuition assistance as well as educational opportunities and enrichment events to qualified applicants.
The College Student Tuition and Conference Scholarship Award is presented to students (male or female) enrolled in a college/postsecondary collision repair/refinishing technology program. Each scholarship recipient will receive a $1,000 scholarship to continue their postsecondary education in collision repair, a one-year WIN membership, plus the registration fee and travel expenses to attend the 2014 Education Conference.
The High School Tuition Scholarship Award is presented to students (male or female) enrolled in a secondary collision repair/refinishing technology program who plan to continue their studies at a technical school or college. Each scholarship winner will receive a $1,000 scholarship to continue their postsecondary education in collision repair and a one-year WIN membership.
The deadline for applications is January 15, 2014. For scholarship requirement details and submission instructions, go to: www.thewomensindustrynetwork.ning.com and click on scholarships.
Need an end-of-year charitable deduction for your 2013 tax return? You can reduce your tax liability and support SkillsUSA’s mission delivery by making a donation to SkillsUSA’s foundation. Click on the blue “Donate” button on SkillsUSA’s home page, www.skillsusa.org, and follow instructions. If you already have a standing pledge to the Skills Build America Campaign, you can advance your 2014 pledge payment or make an additional one-time gift.
You may also want to consider a gift of appreciated stock. This offers several advantages.
- Avoid capital gains tax on the stock donated
- Acquire a tax deduction for the value of the stock donated
- Support SkillsUSA students and programs.
Please contact SkillsUSA’s Eric Gearhart at 703-737-0603, firstname.lastname@example.org if you desire to explore a donation of securities.
SkillsUSA is a IRS-designated 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. All donations are tax deductible to the extent provided by law.