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CSD #13 and Project Launch Partnership Awarded $247,882 Grant to Expand Learning Opportunities for Local Students

(Deer Isle, Maine, July 18, 2022) – The community-school partnership of CSD #13 and education-based local nonprofit, Project Launch (PL), was recently awarded a $247,882 grant from the Maine Department of Education to support career exploration and post-secondary readiness efforts for Deer Isle Stonington High School (DISHS) students. The grant, written by former DISHS principal Laura Davis and PL Executive Director Kimberly Hutchinson, was the second largest award in the state and fosters collaboration with a network of other communities building similar efforts.

As reported by Maine Department of Education Career Education Specialist, Rick Wilson, “Through this funding, 26 state-wide grants were awarded to schools and community-based organizations, totaling $5,659,458 and covering 13 Maine counties, including Sagadahoc, Lincoln, Cumberland, York, Hancock, Waldo, Aroostook, Washington, Knox, Penobscot, Oxford, Somerset, and Kennebec. The specific initiatives will strengthen workforce connections, bring opportunities to thousands of Maine students and create hundreds of new workforce partners.”

The two-year grant will expand the pilot apprenticeship program recently established by PL and allow for additional apprenticeships, student stipends and transportation to sites. Additional grant activities will include internships, job shadows, classroom instruction and skill-building, career fairs and in-state and out-of-state college and worksite trips.

The grant efforts will be coordinated by a team of DISHS administrators, PL staff and the new Extended Learning Opportunities coordinator. This innovative partnership is the cornerstone of the grant and will be critical to long-term sustainment of programming. Hutchinson mentioned, “It is so exciting that our efforts over the last 10 years have helped to create a foundation on which we can now build future success. The support of local employers and strength of the community-school partnership are the building blocks that will create opportunities and change the lives of local young people.”

The pilot student apprenticeship program will begin in September 2022 and will match participating seniors with local businesses throughout Deer Isle and the Blue Hill Peninsula, allowing them to explore career interests as well as develop hands-on and workforce-readiness skills. Placements include construction, plumbing, hospitality, medical, business management, culinary and creative arts. Students will earn class credit and have the opportunity to create a portfolio of mastered skills that can be shared with future employers.

CSD #13 School Board Chairperson, Jane Osborne, shares “I am so excited about the opportunity this grant will give the CSD to support our students in exploring career options and learning how to reach their goals. It is a central focus of what we should be providing our students. Community partners will also benefit by being able to introduce students to opportunities that exist right on Deer Isle for students to develop successful and satisfying careers.”

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