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Massachusetts Communities Receive $647,000 for Middle-school Exploration Programs

BOSTON — American Student Assistance (ASA), a national nonprofit, announced it has awarded grants totaling $647,000 to seven Massachusetts school districts, including two in Western Mass., to fund career and interest exploration programs for middle-school students. The school communities, which will receive their funding over the course of three years, will begin implementing the programs in the 2019-20 school year.

“All of us at ASA firmly believe that, if students have the opportunity to explore a range of courses and career options at an early age, they will be better prepared to find their unique paths and develop plans for after high school,” said Jean Eddy, president and CEO. “Schools in Massachusetts are doing some incredibly innovative things, and we are confident these grants will help energize and inspire young students to begin to set a course for their futures.”

In Western Mass., Monson Public Schools will launch the Careers in the Middle program, providing students in grades 6 to 8 with classroom lessons, field trips, and events that will expose them to career-awareness opportunities.

“Monson is thrilled to be chosen by ASA to partner to provide additional resources that focus on our middle grades,” said Robert Bardwell, director of School Counseling and School-to-Career coordinator. “This grant will give us the opportunity to do more for our middle-level students and collect data that tells us which activities are best to facilitate and encourage career development early on.”

Meanwhile, Springfield STEM Academy will enhance and expand the Tech/Engineering Exploration program to expose students to new fields such as bioengineering, solar and wind engineering, electrical engineering, and mechanical engineering.

“Exposing students to biological, solar, wind, electrical, and mechanical engineering at a young age is a potential game changer for their rest of their lives,” Superintendent Daniel Warwick said. “It allows them to think about the wide array of STEM careers in real ways and opens the door to unlimited possibilities in this burgeoning field. We are extremely grateful that this ASA grant will help us provide this opportunity for our students.”

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