“What we’re really doing is preparing students for jobs that don’t exist
to use technologies, sciences and methods that we haven’t even discovered yet
to solve problems that we haven’t identified yet.”
Chief Education Evangelist, Google
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P40 WorkLab Fellowship
The P40 WorkLab is a work-based learning fellowship for high school students in the northwestern corner of Colorado. The goal is to establish a regional innovation center to increase student engagement and strengthen postsecondary workforce readiness.
The P40 WorkLab Fellowship is a one-year intensive introduction to future-ready skills building focused on design thinking, laboratory-based learning in:
- Entrepreneurship and start-up business building;
- Internships in Colorado’s high-demand job industries;
- Completion of Industry-recognized Certificates, Capstones and Performance Tasks, Diploma Endorsements and Essential Skills microcredentials.
The alternative, flexible learning model is intentionally multidisciplinary, challenging students to apply academic knowledge across the core content areas they study in their traditional school settings. The objective is to promote greater student agency and ownership of learning through career exploration and entrepreneurship in a context that prepares students for real-world, postsecondary job possibilities. The P40 WorkLab creates a modern business workplace that does not currently exist in these small rural communities. This fellowship will provide unique opportunity for high school students to learn and practice the professional skills they will need following high school graduation.
The two primary components of the P40 WorkLab are the Remote Task Group (RTG) and the 5th Day Friday program where students from all districts meet at a single location to build a self-sustaining, revenue-generating, start-up company.
Remote Task Groups
The Remote Task Groups meet after school in-person and/or online from their home communities each week. RTG’s may be school-centric or task-centric and will be directed by student leaders, mentored by local teachers and P40 WorkLab instructors. RTG’s promote self-initiative, strong work ethic and team accountability. Between on-site Friday work days, students will participate in:
- Online coursework and projects to earn industry certificates;
- RTG Team meetings with mentors and fellows;
- P40 project development.
5th Day Fridays
The 5th Day Friday program simulates, and ultimately transforms into, a real-world job environment where students learn and practice future-ready job skills. Students drive the design and implementation of creating a sustainable business. Student Fellows will become Agile Learners as they navigate the challenges and successes of entrepreneurship. The P40 WorkLab integrates academic knowledge, socio-emotional learning, project-based learning, and future-ready skills building in the framework of 21st Century skills.
The 2019-20 Fellowship begins with Bootcamp in August, a two-week orientation for students and instructors to build relationships, establish program parameters and learning contracts, and go on career exploration visits to key industry leaders in Colorado.
- The fall semester will be focused on learning the career and business skills students need to be successful such as professional communication, software and technology, self-initiative and work ethic, project and time management, business planning and entrepreneurial practices. Partnerships with local businesses will identify a talent pool of instructors and mentors to teach and work with students.
- Students will use design thinking to choose a business industry, create a revenue model, develop an implementation plan and timeline, and start the business. Potential product lines include 3D-printing and manufacturing, drone surveillance work, and small building construction, i.e., utility sheds, out-buildings and tiny houses. Along with health care and information technology, these are the most in-demand industries in Colorado with the greatest potential for future job growth.
- Students from all districts will meet in Kremmling on Fridays, divide into their work teams and complete the day’s required tasks, i.e., professional development, skills-building, marketing and sales, accounting and finance, engineering design, maintenance, customer relations, etc. Students will have opportunity to rotate across all the departments during the year.
- Technology tools like Zoom, Slack and Trello will be used for the Remote Task Groups to connect between on-site Friday work days and when weather conditions prevent travel on Fridays.
- Students will be invited to participate in a volunteer service-learning trip during Spring Break.
- Industry certificates, Capstones and Performance Tasks, Diploma Endorsements and Essential Skills microcredentials will be integrated into programming in alignment with districts’ graduation requirements. Partnerships with district administrators are already established in the original 5th Day programs and will be further developed as these credentials are created and implemented.
The impact for these students will be profoundly life-changing. The main reason students are disengaged at school is lack of relevance to life. The P40 WorkLab is a direct connection to the real-world scenarios that graduates are likely to encounter after high school in their college and career pathways. This Fellowship has the potential to change the life trajectory of even the most disengaged, unlikely student.
High school fellows will receive:
- Paid internship stipend;
- Work-based learning and entrepreneurial experience;
- Opportunity to earn Industry certificate, Capstone and Performance Tasks, Diploma Endorsements, Essential Skills microcredentials, high school credit;
- Career Expo Bootcamp.
The ideal high school fellow is:
- Highly motivated and in good academic standing;
- Committed to the pursuit of lifelong learning;
- Willing to take new risks, resilient with a positive attitude, flexibility and adaptability.
Fellows will be expected to:
- Commit to the P40 WorkLab program for one year during SY 2019-20;
- Attend weekly RTG’s and 5th Day Fridays;
- Maintain good academic standing, strong character and behavior.
Partnerships and Sustainability
The goal for the P40 WorkLab is to become self-sustaining through product revenue, partnership with local businesses, per pupil revenue from participating school districts and state incentives for industry certifications and internships. Financial investment will solidify when stakeholders see how their contributions impact and transform high school students into qualified, competent graduates ready for postsecondary success.
- Local business leaders will be invited to serve as instructors and mentors. Through in-kind donations of time and supplies, they will have direct opportunity to cultivate new employees and train them with the skills that meet their company’s needs.
- Participating school districts will be asked to cover the fellowship stipend for their students along with in-kind donations of facilities, transportation and food services. Financial conversations will begin after the first year of the pilot project phase.
- The P40 WorkLab Fellowship is crafted in an internship model, teaching high school students employability skills that will transfer to any type of postsecondary educational or career scenario.
- The Career Development Incentives Program through the Colorado Department of Education provides financial incentives when high school students complete qualified industry credential programs, internships, residencies, construction pre-apprenticeship or construction apprenticeship programs or qualified Advanced Placement (AP) courses.
- Concurrent enrollment is a strong attribute in small rural districts which greatly benefits many students. In addition to earning academic credit, the P40 WorkLab will introduce the concept of Concurrent Employment Training to explore new credit possibilities with higher education institutions.
The P40 WorkLab will benefit all stakeholders in the broader community by empowering students with strong self-confidence and the employability skills they need to succeed in the Age of Agility. These students will be better equipped for the workforce and to make positive contribution to their communities and families.
Creating a New Roadmap
Fellowships like this do not exist for high school students in Colorado. The typical fellowship or internship opportunities are for summer camps at prestigious universities, paid and unpaid summer jobs, academic college scholarships, competitive and merit-based awards for the highest achieving students. Although some benefit, these opportunities are not readily accessible to most students from small rural schools. All students are eligible for the P40 WorkLab Fellowship and will have equal chance of being selected to participate.
The 4-day school week districts in northwestern Colorado represent an ideal situation to pilot this fellowship. Community life is strong in small rural towns. People know each other, support and work together for the benefit of all. Teachers are genuinely interested in the well-being of each of their students. They know the value of the paradigm “More equals More”, that broadening young people’s worldviews and exposing them to possibilities outside their lived experience leads to greater outcomes in adulthood. With fewer students, small school districts have greater ability to provide individual attention, personalized instruction and mentoring. The P40 WorkLab Fellowship is an experiment in collaboration between diverse districts and student groups. The potential is huge.
This type of regional innovation center is a unique concept for education in Colorado. Some school districts in metro-Denver and along the Front Range have established learning facilities where high school students can earn industry certificates, and complete graduation projects. These centers are typically only available to schools within that district and are specifically oriented toward content knowledge-building rather than work-based learning. A student-driven start-up business of this scale is rare in the world of education.
The P40 WorkLab is distinct because its success will be driven by students in a work-based learning environment they create. Skills and knowledge come from an on-the-job need to perform and get things done. Young people will grow personally and professionally as they problem-solve for themselves and their work teams. The P40 WorkLab creates a new roadmap for students to design a career pathway using firsthand experience and agency in a non-traditional, entrepreneurial context. Although students will be exposed to the most in-demand industries in Colorado, their achievement and acquired skills will be applicable to whatever career field they choose.
Our moral imperative is to help get them on a positive path toward the future.
Ready to Support a High School Fellow?
Head on over to the Support a Student page.