Secretary of Education Susan Bunting announced Nov. 14 more than $458,000 in federal grants to expand high school career pathway programs and to support all youth in their pursuit of college and career-readiness coursework.

The statewide Delaware Pathways initiative aims to prepare all students to excel in key industries that offer good jobs in today’s economy.

Grant funds are used by school districts and charter schools to implement career and technical education programs as part of a larger state effort to connect the public education system, post-secondary institutions and employers. Students take hundreds of hours of specialized instruction and hands-on training in their career pathways, giving them the opportunity to graduate high school with work experiences, college credits and industry credentials that are relevant to those industries. As a result, students receive a head start on getting a job and earning a postsecondary credential or degree.

Bunting joined Capital Superintendent Dan Shelton to meet with students and administrators at Dover High School to announce the 51 grant awards, which benefit 17 school districts or charter schools across the state. Capital’s Dover High School is using its grant award to support the PIPEline to Career Success Project for students with disabilities. The project supports students with disabilities to enter into high-quality career pathways, graduate from high school and transition into postsecondary education and employment.

“Dover High School’s program is a prime example of the kind of investments we must make so every student graduates from our schools prepared for success,” said Bunting. “Delaware has public and private partners working together. They are collaborating on the alignment of supports across state agencies for students from low-income families and students with disabilities and on integrating community-based organizations so that out-of-school learning connects to students’ education and career interests.”

The Delaware Pathways program currently serves more than 16,000 students enrolled in 26 career pathways programs across 16 comprehensive school districts, three technical school districts and 11 charter schools, in addition to serving youth at Cleveland White and the Ferris School.

By 2020 Delaware aims to enroll more than 20,000 students — half of the state’s public grade 9-12 population — in career pathways that lead to in-demand jobs — and will work across secondary and postsecondary education systems so that more than 7,500 students are actively engaged in work-based learning placements in partnership with Delaware employers.

“Delaware’s Pathways programs help connect young Delawareans to skills that are demanded in today’s workforce and help put them on a path to a well-paying career,” said Gov. John Carney. “Investing in our workforce and quality skills training also helps strengthen our economy over the long run by making sure Delaware has skilled workers for jobs that are available. This new funding will help us continue and expand that important work.”

“Today, thousands of jobs are going unfilled because we do not have the people with the right skills to support them,” said Sen. Tom Carper. “The Delaware Pathways program aims to end that shortage by finding the skills that our employers need and creating programs in our classrooms that properly prepare students for the workforce. I always say the best thing you can do for someone is to help them find a job, and providing modern training and connecting students with employers is a smart way to ensure they will be employable when they enter the workforce.”

Pathways are developed in partnership with Delaware employers and institutions of higher education. The Department of Education provides curriculum support for each pathway as well as training for teachers to successfully implement the coursework. In addition, the department is working with Delaware colleges and universities so students who complete these programs are eligible for college credit at one or more institutions of higher education in the state.

School districts use funding in a variety of ways, which includes support for students and staff, the development of services and materials required to offer advanced coursework and to scale hands-on training opportunities with Delaware employers.

For more, including a complete list of grant awards, visit delawarepathways.org.