‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ is a question kids hear a lot and answering it can get harder as the school years tick by. This is the time of year when it becomes very real as high school seniors and young adults grapple with decisions about what they want to do next in their lives and how to pay for it. Many will go right on to a traditional four-year college, but increasingly, while some will take a gap year before college, others will seek technical training and head into the workforce with a credential of value. Maine needs skilled workers, and providing support for students seeking a pathway to a meaningful career with a living wage—and not necessarily a four-year degree—is of increasing interest to industries and organizations across the state, including the Island Institute.
We proudly support the aspirations of college-bound island students through our scholarship programs as we have for decades. In recent years, we’ve expanded that work to include support for students and families navigating the college application and financial aid process, as well as providing travel and enrichment scholarships for students starting in middle school and continuing through college. Together, these two programs have helped Maine island students participate in incredible educational experiences across the globe, and successful transition to and persist in college.
But what about the kids who don’t necessarily go straight on to a four-year college? How do we help make sure that students are exposed to the wide-range of opportunities out there for them? These are some of the persistent questions that lead us to create a workforce strategy called Compass, which aims to increase knowledge and access to career resources that align with actual workforce needs and requirements for students and their teachers. This happens through networking with industry leaders and workforce development organizations, professional development for teachers and Career Days, internships, and now a grant program for island students and young adults.
The Island Institute is pleased to announce its newest scholarship, the Compass Workforce Grant. This grant of up to $500 is designed to help young adults from Maine’s unbridged islands pay for workforce expenses associated with pursuing a certificate or credential that leads to high-value employment. Covered expenses include tuition for training programs, materials/supplies, and travel/lodging costs. We understand that opportunities can come up quickly and therefore have a rolling deadline of the first of each month, starting in December, and promise a decision within four weeks.