How Joyce’s Latest $3 Million Will Be Used in Midwestern High Schools

The Joyce Foundation’s education program is threefold: improving teacher quality, getting kids ready for kindergarten, and preparing youth for higher education and employment. The last of these approaches has been quite significant lately, as college readiness has been dominating the K-12 education funding scene lately.

To show its support for this cause, the Joyce Foundation recently announced a new $3 million commitment to expanding high-quality college and career pathways. These funds will be split among four communities in the Midwest, one being the northwest Chicago suburbs served by Districts 211 and 214 and Harper College. The other communities served by Joyce’s latest $3 million will be Central Ohio/Greater Columbus, Madison, Wisconsin, and Rockford, Illinois.

This funding is part of Joyce’s Great Lakes College and Career Pathways Partnership, and each community will receive $400,000 over two years, as well as technical support from national leaders. These communities were chosen because of their vision for expanding and improving college and career pathways systems, serving the needs of their student populations, and for having supportive and engaged local employers. (Check out the Great Lakes College and Career Pathways Partnership FAQ to learn more about Joyce’s approach to college prep for high schoolers.)  

What makes this recent grant commitment interesting is that Joyce broadened its view of education needs from just Chicago and the Midwest to other parts of the country. The new investment includes $1.4 million to be shared by three national leaders in this field: ConnectEd, the California Center for College and Career in Berkeley, Jobs for the Future in Boston, and the Chicago-based Education Systems Center of Northern Illinois University.

Although one of these national organization grants is still locally based, the other two are on opposite coasts. The Great Lakes region is still Joyce's primary geographic focus; however, outside groups that serve broad national interests definitely aren’t out of the question, especially if those broad projects serve interests that benefit the Great Lakes Region. The NIU grantee, for example, has played a central role in developing policies and programs to support career pathways across Illinois and understanding the state policy aspects of pathway systems.

“College and career pathways transform high school by making the experience far more relevant for students and helping to ensure lasting success in education, careers and life. And they turn out more knowledgeable and skilled workers to fuel regional economies,” Beth Swanson, the Joyce Foundation’s vice president for strategy and programs, said in a press release.

Joyce Education Program Officer Jason Quiara shared, “A growing number of communities across the United States are embracing pathways as a core education and workforce strategy. With this investment, Joyce hopes to capitalize on the increasing interest in pathways to generate even greater momentum for expansion of education and career opportunities for young people.”

To learn more about Joyce’s Joint Fund for Education and Employment, check out the funder’s website. Ultimately, this funding program is all about preparing youth and young adults to compete in a constantly changing job market.  

In addition to the pathways program discussed here, Joyce also funds efforts for non-academic personal success skills and ones that emphasize real-world applications, personalized learning, and productive technology use. Just keep in mind that this Joyce fund does not support direct service programs and that organizations that serve Great Lakes communities always have the upper hand.