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Young Entrepreneurs Consortium awarded grant

7/31/2014 - South Side Leader
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By Ariel Hakim

NORTH CANTON — The Young Entrepreneurs Consortium, a group of 12 school districts, three career and technical centers, three higher education institutions and 11 business/community partners, met July 28 at Stark State Community College to celebrate being awarded a $13.6 million Straight A Fund grant from the Ohio Department of Education (ODE).

The consortium is kicking off a multi-year initiative to create an innovative model for community engagement and increasing the flow of young entrepreneurs in Ohio, according to its representatives.

The goal of the grant is to increase student achievement by building a robust education-to-employment model impacting grades six through 14, exposing students to an array of business and technical pathways, work-based learning experiences and leverage project-based learning that can prepare them to compete in the 21st-century global economy, according to consortium officials.

In the South Side News Leader’s coverage area, partners in the Young Entrepreneurs Consortium that stand to benefit from the funding include Green Local Schools, Ohio STEM Learning Network’s Akron Hub and The University of Akron.

Among the school districts involved in the consortium, Green is the largest, said Cindy Brown, principal of Green High School.

“This will significantly impact grades six through 12 at Green Local Schools, beginning with some project-based learning at the middle school level and then growing into some career pathways in entrepreneurship that will lead to an associate degree,” Brown said.

Also, dual enrollment opportunities for high school students will increase, and the grant will supply the district with funding for future technology purchases, she added.

Overall, the grant awarded to the consortium will reach 26,549 students in an 11-county service area including Summit, Carroll, Guernsey, Holmes, Muskingum, Noble, Perry, Stark, Tuscarawas, Washington and Wayne, according to consortium officials.

The Young Entrepreneurs Consortium was one of 37 grant recipients. The Straight A Fund, created by Gov. John Kasich, is a $250 million program that promotes innovative local ideas and programs to help transform and modernize Ohio’s education system, according to consortium officials. The Straight A Fund provides funds to educational entities in Ohio with drive and courage to try new approaches that meet the learning needs of its students, reduce the cost of running a school or school district and drive more dollars to the classroom, consortium officials stated.

The Straight A Fund was created in the state budget signed last summer by Kasich, according to the ODE. More than 150 entities received $100 million last year, with $150 million earmarked for new grants this year. The Straight A Fund is part of a $1.6 billion increase in state funding for education over the two-year budget cycle, according to ODE.

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