Let’s Get to Work … Connecting Students to High Skill Careers
It has been a year of growth for Avenue Scholars Foundation. This year, we served a record number of students and are poised to continue that growth into the foreseeable future. With the additions of Papillion-LaVista and Papillion-LaVista South this fall, we expanded the number of high schools with which we partner from seven to nine. To keep pace with our growing enrollment, we welcomed a number of talented and dedicated staff, making this the largest (and, I believe, the strongest) employee team we’ve had at ASF. But most importantly, it was a year of growth relative to our most important purpose – supporting students in their pathway to a career.
This additional support for students has come by way of a partnership with the Knights of Aksarben Foundation, the Horatio Alger Association and Metropolitan Community College. As a result of this partnership, students who proceed through the high school portion of the Avenue Scholars program will be eligible for a scholarship of up to $4,000 per year for two years to continue their education in a career or technical program at MCC. ASF Career Talent Advisors and MCC Student Navigators will provide Avenue Scholars with guidance and support as they advance through their coursework/training at MCC and transition to a career. Scholarships were awarded to 171 students this past summer, with plans to issue 600 such scholarships concurrently (300 per year for two years) upon full implementation. Ultimately, this initiative will help produce workers to fill high-skill, high-demand career and technical jobs in our community, benefiting these students, area businesses and our local economy.
As this partnership grows in the coming years, so too will our program. In addition to the nine high schools with which we currently partner (Omaha Benson, Omaha Bryan, Omaha North, Omaha Northwest, Omaha South, Ralston, Millard South, Papillion-LaVista, and Papillion-LaVista South), we anticipate expanding our program to serve students in all high schools in Douglas and Sarpy Counties within the next two years. And while that growth may result in some changes going forward, the fundamentals of what we do and whom we serve will remain steady. We will continue to serve exclusively students of hope and need (determined by eligibility for free/reduced lunch or federal Pell Grants), utilizing education and supportive relationships as the means of preparing them for productive careers. The only difference going forward is that we’ll be serving a greater number of students along a generally more defined academic path that leads to jobs in career/technical fields.
In closing, I’d like to thank the staff of Avenue Scholars Foundation for doing the work that drives this program; our financial contributors for the caring and generosity that makes our work possible; our community partners for the collaboration necessary to produce success; and our students for their effort, hope and the inspiration they provide. Your contributions are essential and greatly appreciated.
Kenneth M. Bird, Ed.D. President/CEO