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Ellbogen Grant Awarded to Fund Research Study in Wyoming K12 Innovative Programs

              The John P. “Jack” Ellbogen Foundation has awarded two years of grant funding to the Wyoming School-University Partnership to research Wyoming programs in K-12 schools that assist in building skills for post-secondary success.

              This research study arose thanks to the connections between the Partnership and various organizations/stakeholders over the years. The Wyoming State Board of Education hosted visitors to their meetings in 2021 wherein they invited schools to speak up about some of the innovative programs supporting students to excel in the future. One of the schools invited to these sessions was Wind River High School, and the teachers and students spoke about the capstone present in WRHS for the past five years. This capstone is a collaborative project that the Partnership has been working on with capstone instructors Malinda Garcia Clapp and Ryan Sennett. During these sessions, the State Board of Education opened communication channels so that the Partnership could learn more about some of the work being done at these other schools. This is where the study began to grow and take shape.

              Before applying to the John P. "Jack" Ellbogen Foundation, the Partnership and representatives from the State Board of Education discussed some pieces that would be most useful to other schools in the state. We expanded the case study model to include multiple schools with internships, experiential capstones, and/or other experiential/career-focused opportunities. In addition, we are planning to develop a public inventory of what programs are available in the state of Wyoming and the distinct pieces that each of these programs has to offer. Another goal of this study is to highlight any metrics wherein program participation is correlated with post-secondary school success. Lastly, we are working to develop a series of potential best practices that will assist other Wyoming schools in building similar programs in their area that can be tailored to meet their needs. The goal of this work has been to create public resources that could benefit any Wyoming K-12 institution, which is part of how the John P. "Jack" Ellbogen Foundation grant funding was secured.

              When reaching out to the John P. “Jack” Ellbogen Foundation, we wanted to ensure that the study would be designed in such a way that it could discuss why this work around the state was so important. These innovative programs have been working to foster their readiness for whatever route they chose. Many of these programs highlighted the benefits of various pathways to achieve career success (e.g., career/technical certifications, assistantships, community college and university education, etc.). By analyzing some of the impacts these programs have had on students, other schools may have the drive and resources to build programming that fits current student needs. Such a large-scale project required funding so that the Partnership could hire a graduate assistant who would direct all their attention to fulfilling this multi-pronged approach. Identifying the innovative ideas that are being developed in Wyoming is crucial in supporting the entirety of our K-12 education since these are resources that are often tailored to meet Wyoming student needs.

              The hope is to find and train a graduate assistant by the Spring of 2022, and we will begin working on this project for the next two years. If you have programs in your area that you believe would be a good fit for this research study, please contact us at partnership@uwyo.edu.
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