Jobs for Maine’s Graduates Receives $50,000 “Catalyst for Change” Award

By Ramona du Houx - February 22nd, 2010 · 

Jobs for Maine’s Graduates (JMG) has been selected as a recipient of the Nellie Mae Education Foundation’s Catalyst for Change awards, which recognize existing examples of personalized, student-centered learning experiences across New England. Twelve schools and education organizations have received a one-time grant of $50,000.

“This project will help JMG significantly expand the reach of JMG’s student-centered personalized learning model through strategic partnerships to dramatically improve Maine’s dropout rate, graduation rate, and post secondary attainment,” explains Craig Larrabee, President and CEO of JMG. “Receiving this lead grant from the largest foundation dedicated to improving education for underserved youth in New England is a huge honor.”

All Catalyst for Change applicants were asked to clearly articulate how they define, implement and/or promote personalized, student-centered learning through their school models, policy change or advocacy efforts.

“The selection process has helped us become more aware of efforts already taking place across the region to put students at the center of the educational experience,” said Mary Sylvia Harrison, Vice President of Programs for the Nellie Mae Education Foundation. “We’re pleased to recognize these schools and organizations, and we look forward to further exploring how to build on the momentum for innovation that these models create.”

Applicants were also asked to present a clear rationale for their particular approach and provide supporting evidence of the approach’s contributions to the improvement of educational outcomes for middle and high school students, especially the underserved. Applicants also had to show that their programs were a core facet of schooling and not a stand-alone program.

JMG currently serves more than 4,000 middle and high school students, the majority of whom have been identified as being at-risk of not graduating from high school. The $50,000 award will help fund the development of a three- year demonstration project, allowing JMG to expand programming in the Greater Portland and Central Maine areas on a regional basis. For 16 consecutive years JMG has been recognized on the national level for the consistent quality and high level of success it helps students achieve. This past year, 96% of seniors enrolled in JMG successfully graduated from high school, and 51% enrolled in a formal post- secondary program following high school.

Twelve schools and organizations from across New England were selected to receive Catalyst for Change awards, including: Boston Arts Academy (Boston, MA); Boston Day & Evening Academy (Boston, MA); The Domus Foundation (Stamford, CT); Northeast Kingdom Learning Services (Newport, VT); Q.E.D. Foundation (Amherst, NH); Sheepscot Valley Regional School Union # 12 (Wiscasset, ME); Springfield Renaissance School (Springfield, MA); Steps to Success (Brookline, MA); Vermont Rural Partnership (East Hardwick, VT); Vermont Youth Conservation Corps (Richmond, VT); and Young Voices (Providence, RI).