READY Institute, Building Pathways for Students to Successful Careers, to Launch With Start-Up Funding Approved By County Council

by MCS Staff

County Council-funded Initiative Will Build, Enhance Joint Efforts of MCPS, MC, USG

Montgomery County’s public education partners – Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), Montgomery College (MC) and the Universities at Shady Grove (USG) – will deepen their collective efforts to build and/or enhance successful pathways that lead students into college degree or training programs and ultimately to impactful careers, through the creation of the new “READY Institute.” The initiative is being launched with start-up funding approved by the County Council in the fiscal year 2023 operating budget.

Per the press release: The READY Institute’s (READY standing for “Resilient Education for All, Designed for You”) primary objective will be to provide more career-building opportunities for students and to enhance the county’s efforts to proactively develop talent pipelines to support critical workforce and economic development needs. Two Council committee chairs – Councilmember Craig Rice, Chair of the Council’s Education and Culture Committee, and Councilmember Hans Riemer, Chair of the Planning, Housing and Economic Development (PHED) Committee – convened joint committee sessions to work with the educational partners, and with the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation (MCEDC) and WorkSource Montgomery (WSM), to address workforce needs and potential strategies to enhance the talent pool.

“The READY Institute is a bold initiative with a vision of stronger collaboration among our educational, workforce, and economic development partners,” said Councilmember Rice. “I look forward to the creation of an educational ecosystem that intentionally connects education and skill development with our workforce needs. This strong partnership between The Universities at Shady Grove, Montgomery College and MCPS will enhance and support the career pathways for our most in-demand careers that include mental health, biotech, and early care and education. This is good news for our residents, employers, and our economy.”

“From the time Chair Rice and I first sat down with our educational leaders to begin charting a new approach for career pathways in Montgomery County, I knew we were on to something great,” said Councilmember Riemer. “I am so glad we were able to provide seed funding for the READY Institute. I am confident this effort will blossom into a durable program that gives our students more opportunity to visualize and follow clear pathways into great careers right here in our county.”
Once it is fully operational, the READY Institute will be headquartered at USG, a regional higher education center of the University System of Maryland, in Montgomery County, that brings onto one campus degree and certificate programs from nine of Maryland’s leading public universities. Through the READY Institute, USG and its university partners will continue to collaborate with MCPS and MC on planning for pathway programs that will ultimately lead graduates to successful careers with the increased use of data informed decision-making.

The County Council earmarked $475,000 in the FY 23 operating budget to launch the institute, which will include the hiring of a director and additional staff, as well as data-sharing mechanisms. As envisioned, the institute will provide:

  1. Data and analysis to plan for and build educational pathways that lead to great careers.

  2. A point of coordination for partner institutions to implement and continuously improve planning and to create successful pathways.

  3. Data and analysis to spearhead partner institution engagement with employers across the planning, implementation and assessment of pathway work.

  4. A hub where county thought leadership on educational equity can thrive.

  5. Data and analysis to plan for and build cross-county career readiness work.

“Together with our partners from MCPS and Montgomery College, we have built a number of successful educational pathway programs, including ACES (Achieving Collegiate Excellence and Success), which help students succeed in their educational journey,” said Dr. Anne Khademian, Executive Director of the Universities at Shady Grove and Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs for the University System of Maryland. “The READY Institute will take our partnership to the next level and make sure we have the data needed to ensure that programs will achieve the desired outcomes – guiding students into great careers, while meeting workforce needs.”

“I look forward to broadening our already highly successful work with USG and MCPS to increase the number of ready workers in STEM, healthcare and business disciplines,” said Dr. Jermaine F. Williams, Montgomery College president. “MC will continue to work with our partners to open doors ever wider to create more of the teachers, nurses, engineers and cyber techs that local employers need. Building on our data-informed strategies by enhancing the use of economic trends analysis and jobs data will enable this partnership to deepen the homegrown talent pool, especially in areas such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and cloud and quantum computing. Continuing to ease the pathways to jobs in these fields will grow the economy and get residents to a family sustaining wage sooner.”

“I am thrilled that this cross-sector partnership plan will address educational equity challenges and deliver a more seamless, student-centered, accessible, affordable, high-quality education that leads to high demand careers, and beyond” said Dr. Monifa McKnight, Montgomery County’s Superintendent of Schools.

“I thank the Montgomery County Council for funding this initiative and for understanding the enormous value of data-driven pathway development,” said Dr. Jay Perman, Chancellor of the University System of Maryland. “USG has long worked with its education partners and with local employers to prepare students for the county’s high-demand, high-wage jobs. This initiative powerfully builds on that foundation. It not only brings together everyone with an interest in student success and economic growth; it brings them together around specific programs that careful analyses show have the greatest promise.”

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