At first glance, it may seem that a high-achieving Montana teenager and a manufacturing company in Iowa have little in common. Likewise, a Minnesota high school may appear to be worlds apart from a diverse community college in Alabama. Yet ACT last night honored all four as national exemplars for their accomplishments in improving college and career readiness.
ACT presented four National College and Career Readiness Awards at the nonprofit organization’s second annual gala in Washington, D.C. last night. Using the theme “Many Paths, One Destination,” the annual event celebrated achievement across the education continuum, honoring a student, a high school, a community college and an employer.
The event was the culmination of ACT’s College and Career Readiness Campaign, a year-long partnership between ACT and eight participating states: Alabama, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota and Wisconsin. The goal of the campaign is to identify and raise awareness about those who are making notable strides in ensuring college and career readiness.
The 2014 honorees were:
- Student Readiness Award: Alisa Braun, Bozeman High School, Bozeman, Montana. A graduating senior, Alisa was recognized for her flair for tackling challenges in the classroom and beyond. The Student Readiness Award is given to a high school student demonstrating significant progress toward college and career readiness between grade 8 and 12; exhibiting success beyond the classroom in extracurricular activities and community service; and achieving success in the face of adversity or extraordinary circumstances. Along with her award, Alisa received a $4,000 college scholarship. Each of the remaining seven student finalists will receive a $2,000 college scholarship from ACT.
- College and Career Transition Award: St. Louis Park High School, St. Louis Park, Minnesota. Among other accomplishments, this socio-economically diverse school drastically reduced the number of 9th graders failing first year high school classes—from 44 percent to 11.5 percent since the inception of its Building Assets Reducing Risks (BARR) program. The College and Career Transition Award is given to a high school displaying dedication to preparing students for success after high school; serving students of diverse backgrounds; and demonstrating student growth toward meeting ACT’s College and Career Readiness Benchmarks.
- Career Preparedness Award: Shelton State Community College, Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The college’s Ready to Work initiative boasts an 85 percent placement rate to help individuals work toward a better life. The Career Preparedness award is given to a community college demonstrating superior career preparation and career planning programs; creating successful student outcomes including retention, graduation, four-year institution transfer and job placement; and developing relationships and partnerships with local employers.
- Workplace Success Award: Bodine Electric Company, Peosta, Iowa. The company, with a workforce of nearly 300, faced a skills shortage. But instead of relocating to another state or country, they made a company-wide commitment to building the homegrown workforce in their region of Northeast Iowa by partnering closely to create curriculum and training programs at Northeastern Iowa Community College. The Workplace Success award is given to an employer demonstrating dedication to employee development; developing relationships and partnerships with local high schools and colleges; and exhibiting involvement within their local community
“Ensuring that all students are college and career ready requires strong and meaningful partnerships spanning the kindergarten through career continuum, involving industry and academia, nonprofits and for-profits–and many of these efforts must cross state borders and political boundaries,” said Jon Whitmore, ACT chief executive officer. “Success will take more people like our honorees, with the courage to follow their dreams, the tenacity to overcome their obstacles and the generosity of spirit to share their stories to serve as examples for us all.”
More than 200 education and workforce leaders and influencers attended the gala to celebrate the accomplishments of the honorees. Jenna Bush Hager of NBC’s “The Today Show” delivered keynote remarks.
To learn more about ACT’s ongoing College and Career Readiness Campaign, visit http://www.act.org/readinesscampaign.