Rethinking High School: President Obama Announces New Youth CareerConnect Grants

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"How do we start making high school ... more interesting, more exciting, more relevant to young people?"

That's the idea behind the Youth CareerConnect grant program, which President Obama discussed this morning during his visit to Bladensburg High School in Prince George's County, Maryland. In his remarks, the President announced that Bladensburg High was part of a three-school team in Prince George's County that won a $7 million Youth CareerConnect grant. 

The grant will give students at Bladensburg High access to individualized college and career counseling, as well as paid work experiences with employer partners such as Lockheed Martin. What's more, students concentrating in health professions will be able to earn industry-recognized certifications in nursing and pharmacy, and biomedical students will be able to earn college credit from the Rochester Institute of Technology and the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

President Barack Obama meets with students working in a biomedical sciences classroom at Bladensburg High School in Bladensburg, Maryland, April 7, 2014.

President Barack Obama meets with students working in a biomedical sciences classroom at Bladensburg High School in Bladensburg, Maryland, April 7, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

All told, the grant will help prepare 2,500 students at Bladensburg High and other Prince George's County schools to succeed academically and graduate career-ready in the high-demand fields of information technology and health care.

Youth CareerConnect is a national competition, backed by the Departments of Education and Labor, to start redesigning America's high schools for the 21st century economy. The program is offering $107 million in new grants — ranging from $2.2 million to $7 million — to local partnerships of local education agencies, workforce investment boards, institutions of higher education, and employer partners.

We challenged America's high schools to ... say what can you do to make sure your students learn the skills that businesses are looking for in high-demand fields. And we asked high schools to develop partnerships with colleges and employers, and create classes that focus on real-life applications for the fields of the future — fields like science and technology and engineering and math.

President Barack Obama shakes hands with the students on stage following remarks and announcing the winners of the Youth CareerConnect Competition, at Bladensburg High School in Bladensburg, Maryland, April 7, 2014.

President Barack Obama shakes hands with the students on stage following remarks and announcing the winners of the Youth CareerConnect Competition, at Bladensburg High School in Bladensburg, Maryland, April 7, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

As President Obama explained, these grants will help ensure that more of America's youth receive a world-class education, which will prepare them "with the skills they need for college, for a career, and for a lifetime of citizenship."

"From preschool for every 4-year-old in America, to higher education for everybody who wants to go, every young person deserves a fair shot," said the President. "And I'm going to keep on doing everything I can to make sure you get that shot and to keep America a place where you can make it if you try."

To learn more about the Youth CareerConnect program, click here.

Related Topics: Education, Maryland
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