MVSD Awarded $125K Partnership Formalization Regional Challenge Grant

In recognition and support of the MVSD and Methow Valley community’s efforts to expand Career and Technical Education (CTE) pathways, related coursework, community-based internships, and paid apprenticeships – all aimed at equipping students with the knowledge, skills, and real-world experiences needed to pursue post-secondary educational, technical training, industrial standard credentials, and future employment – the MVSD was recently notified that it has been awarded a $125,000 Washington Student Achievement Council Partnership Formation Regional Challenge Grant.

The grant is intended to provide the financial support necessary to facilitate the formalization of cross-sector partnerships, allowing for the expansion of community-based internships and paid apprenticeships here in the Methow Valley. In brief, it was recently described by one council member as a “regional partnership strategy,” designed to support allies, strategically located throughout the state, who are working toward a common set of outcomes associated with the unmet needs that exist within today’s workforce and our state’s young people.

On a related note, in an article written by Suzanne P. Clarke, President and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, she states, “The demand for skilled workers is greater than ever, but availability is in short supply. Our study finds that 74% of hiring managers agree that there is a skills gap in the current labor market, with 48% saying that candidates lack the skills needed to fill open jobs.” She further states, “Traditionally, pursuing formal education has been the surest path to employment. But times are changing, with companies preparing for a world where competencies—not degrees—are the most important factors when filling a job.”

Fueled by this information, coupled with stakeholder feedback (provided by 789 respondents during the MVSD Dream Big Event), the MVSD has prioritized the investment of its limited resources into the expansion of the District’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) pathways. Photo of Room One female apprentice.This not only includes related coursework, and community-based internships, but most recently, the first ever, Methow Valley Education Foundation (MVEF) funded, paid-apprenticeship at Room One. Sara Mounsey, ILC Principal stated, “These programs are being developed to position students aged 16-24 for upward mobility in livable wage earning jobs in the community. More specifically, these programs are being designed to capitalize on a range of expertise and experience that exists right here, in the Methow Valley, providing students with increased opportunities for exposure, exploration, and engagement in relevant, real world experiences and “earn to learn” opportunities, directly linking students and graduates to career-connected post secondary degrees, certificate programs, and future employment.”

When asked how this grant will further the district’s efforts, CTE and Dual Credit Coordinator, Grant Storey stated, “The Partnership Formation Regional Challenge Grant will serve as a springboard of sorts. It will provide the MVSD with the financial support necessary to take the next step forward. This begins with the formalization of partnerships between the school district and its many current and potential partners, ultimately, leading to the expansion of post-secondary education, training, certification, and employment for Methow Valley students and graduates.” He further stated, “Like many rural districts, addressing the current skills gap, particularly in areas of unmet need within our community, in the absence of a regional skill center, can be a significant challenge. However, through the launching of job-embedded, community-based educational programs such as automotive technology, welding, construction and design, health sciences, and sustainability initiatives, we are determined to overcome barriers that would potentially disadvantage our students.”

Recognizing this important work cannot be accomplished alone, the MVSD has cultivated strong support and partnerships that will serve as a foundation for the formalization of cross-sector partnerships. This list includes but is not limited to: Methow Valley Education Foundation, Winthrop Kiwanis Club, Public School Funding Alliance, Big Picture Learning, North Central ESD 171, Western Washington University Sustainability Pathways Program, Career Connect Washington, Core Plus Construction, Washington State Department of Ecology, and the Washington Student Achievement Council.

Asked to speak to the growing list of partners, Superintendent Venable remarked, “Increasingly, I believe the path forward involves blurring the lines between school and community. The Methow Valley is blessed with caring, competent, passion-driven individuals, businesses, and organizations. When we’ve paired up our students and recent graduates with caring, competent adults willing to serve as mentors, time and time again, we’ve witnessed high levels of success for our students and graduates. It’s a win-win-win for students, graduates, their future, and the long-term health of our community.” He concluded his remarks by stating, “Hopefully, what we learn from this process, as well as what we as a community create, can serve as a ‘blueprint’ for other rural school districts.”


Spring Break: Monday, April 3rd - Friday, April 7th - All MVSD schools and the district office will be closed to the public.