2020 Career Pathway Award

2020 Career Pathway Award

Career Pathways Partnership Excellence Award

The Career Pathways Partnership Excellence Award emphasizes the importance of career guidance and advising, professional development for educators and employers, and the employer role in providing work-based learning opportunities for students. The award is sponsored by IMCA, an international company with a reputation for innovative social investments in technical education. IMCA has led numerous initiatives over the past decade, all aimed at transforming technical education through the development of strategic business-education partnerships. An international program will also be recognized.

Criteria for Application

This nomination process is open to any Career Pathways initiative (state, regional, local, or international) whose leadership includes one or more NCPN members. (Join NCPN.)

Winners must attend the NCPN Opening Session (October 16 in Atlanta) to receive the award.

Review Process

Applications will be judged by the NCPN Advisory Board Award Task Force.

Nominate only one Career Pathway program of study. An overview of all of your Career Pathways programs should not be the focus of your application. Judges will consider the elements of only one program of study in reviewing your application.

Application Scoring

Employer Engagement • Curriculum • Counseling • Outcomes

Award Details

  • U.S. programs first place: Complimentary registration for two people

  • U.S. programs second place: Complimentary registration for one person

  • International category: Complimentary registration for one person

  • Winners will be recognized at the NCPN 2020 Virtual Conference on Friday, October 16, at Noon EDT.

  • Each recognized program will be featured in Connections, the NCPN newsletter.

Sponsored by IMCA

IMCA is proud to sponsor this award, as it aligns with IMCA’s commitment to the advancement of Career Pathways, career technical education (CTE), and related education reform initiatives.


If you have questions about award content, please contact Claudia Maness. If you have questions about completing the award application, please contact Sheila Wilson.


2020 Winners

Integrated Work-Based Model, Ranken Technical College

Ranken Technical College logoRanken Technical College’s integrated work-based learning sequence is an approved Department of Labor apprenticeship model that provides students with opportunities for accelerated career advancement, earning while they learn. All Ranken programs under this model have adopted a four-semester instructional sequence with eight weeks in class and eight weeks in a paid work-based learning experience. One example is the tailored Industrial Engineering Technology (IET) apprenticeship/associate degree program, which is adaptable both to incumbent workers and new hires depending on a sponsoring company’s needs. Students receive instruction in eight core areas, including mechanical and electrical systems, welding, and hydraulics, while earning National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) certification after completion of industry-approved performance and theory tests.

Stan Shoun and Don Pohl
Stan Shoun (l), CEO, and Don Pohl, President, Ranken Technical College

For the past decade, Ranken has established numerous on-campus, industry-sponsored microenterprises that replicate actual production lines. This practice recently reached an important milestone with the construction of the state-of-the-art Robert W. Plaster Free Enterprise Center, a dedicated facility specifically for microenterprises. The Center has enhanced work-based learning by creating space for additional industrial-grade work-cells in close cooperation with advanced manufacturing industry partners such as Emerson, Nidec Corporation, Hunter Engineering, and GWR Safety Systems.

The above-named activities are components of Priming the Pipeline, a long-term Ranken initiative that plays a vital role in engaging and preparing a workforce for the 21st century. Thousands of students in grades 6–12 have participated in activities such as career exploration, earning scholarship credits, Early College dual credit/enrollment partnerships with secondary schools, and competitions including SkillsUSA and SuperMileage.

Ranken Technical College is a fully accredited, private, non-profit institution of higher learning in St. Louis, Missouri. Its graduates have achieved a job placement rate of 98 percent.

Ranken students


Class Act Federal Credit Union, Louisville, Kentucky

Class Act FCU logoClass Act FCU (CAFCU) partners with Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) in supporting the CU@School program at two academy schools in the district. The curriculum, developed by CAFCU employees, teaches financial literacy, soft skills, how to run a credit union branch, and other skills. Participating students are interviewed by CAFCU executives and complete their preparatory training during the summers. The school branches are full-service, have the same equipment as the regular CAFCU branches, and are connected to the main office to enable real-time transactions. Marilyn Boyd is the CAFCU full-time branch coordinator whose activities include training students in the program to teach their peers about financial literacy and the credit union. Ongoing academic support is provided throughout the year by Mrs. Boyd and the graduation rate for participating students is 100 percent. At another school, Ashley Blount is a full time employee with JCPS and takes on the challenges of running her Credit Union inside of the school with the support of CAFCU.

Class Act FCU logo

The program creates work-based learning experiences for around 50 students each year. Students shadow employees during summer training and have internship opportunities at CAFCU branches as staffing needs arise. Over 500 students have participated in the program over the past ten years. CAFCU has hired dozens of program graduates who have stayed in Louisville after graduation. Some worked at CAFCU through all three years of their eligibility for the program and came on full-time at CAFCU after graduation. When program graduates move away to attend college, CAFCU reaches out to credit unions in those cities to alert them to the arrival of excellent potential employees.

Participating students are exposed to multiple areas within the credit union industry—IT, marketing, lending, account management, and others. They learn about career ladders and are encouraged to explore all opportunities at CAFCU as well as at other credit unions and banks. Students are required to complete CUNA online modules. (CUNA, the Credit Union National Association, advocates for credit unions around the world.) Students can earn certifications in member service, accounting, security, and marketing. These certifications are recognized by the Kentucky Department of Education and count toward graduation at every high school in the state. In the 2019 school year alone, students at the two participating academy schools completed over 2,000 CUNA modules.

One of the best things about this program is that it transcends the “cliques” that are common in schools. As a group, the participating students represent a true cross section of the entire student population. Through this program, they learn to work together in diverse environments like those they will encounter as working adults.

Class Act FCU students


2019 Winners

Design and Media Arts Pathway, Los Angeles Trade Technical College (LATTC)

The Design and Media Arts Pathway at LATTC prepares students for creative careers in fashion design, fashion merchandising, tailoring, visual communications, sign graphics, and digital media. Our programs of study balance creative and practical skills while providing rigorous, comprehensive training through the use of manual and technological tools. Upon entering the pathway, students in design and media arts are guided to a program of study within the pathway that best meets their interests and strengths. Throughout the program, students are provided with embedded counseling, student services, and contextualized general education courses to ensure they stay on the path to achieving their career and academic goals. As students complete their program of study, the Design and Media Arts Pathway readies them for entry into the workforce through industry partnerships that lead to internships and employment.

Diesel Equipment Technology Program, Copiah-Lincoln Community College

Copiah-Lincoln Community College’s Diesel Equipment Technology Program is a two-year instructional program that provides students with competencies required to maintain and repair a variety of industrial diesel equipment, including agricultural tractors, commercial trucks, and construction equipment. The program includes instruction in inspection, repair, and maintenance of engines, power trains, hydraulic systems, and other components through hands-on experience, cooperative and work-based learning, and laboratory training. Graduates can earn a technical certificate or an associate of applied science degree. Co-Lin offers the program on both the Wesson and Natchez campuses. The program boasts a 100 percent student completion rate and 98 percent job placement rate.

Over the last 50 years, Co-Lin’s Diesel Equipment Technology Program has cultivated valuable relationships with business and industry leaders in Southwest Mississippi to ensure students are well prepared to enter the workforce as skilled employees. Partnerships with companies like Empire Trucking, Puckett Machinery, Waters International Trucks Inc., and Wal-Mart Trucking have not only provided internship and employment opportunities, but also student scholarships.

Dominican Republic Business-Technical Education Partnership

In 2018 NCPN launched an international track designed to recognize programs that share the philosophy of contextual teaching and learning and the need for public-private partnerships to create “shared value” in education.

NCPN is pleased to announce that the winner of the first international award is the Dominican Republic Business-Technical Education Partnership (DRBTEP). DRBTEP was designed in 2007 to create a pipeline of world-class technicians to boost the DR’s international competitiveness. The program is headquartered at the Loyola Polytechnic Institute (LPI), one of the best education institutions in the country. (In Spanish the acronym is IPL, for Instituto Politécnico Loyola.)

DRBTEP is sponsored by IMCA-CAT, the Caterpillar dealer for the DR and Jamaica. IMCA CAT has donated equipment and funded professional development at the IPL for more than a decade through CORD in Waco, Texas. Pedro Esteva, the President and CEO of IMCA, has been actively involved in getting more business leaders to commit to the program. He has also participated in NCPN conferences since 2008.

DRBTEP has received national recognition in the DR because of its success in preparing students for the technical workplace of the future. After more than a decade of implementation, more than 80 percent of graduates feel that they are better prepared for tertiary education and for the world of work.

To date, more than 1500 students have graduated from the program, and around 100 LPI teachers have received over 15,000 person-hours of professional development.

2018 Winner and Honorable Mention Recipients

Florida Pathways to Apprenticeship

Florida Pathways to Apprenticeship is a program of the Florida Masonry Apprentice and Education Foundation (FMAEF). FMAEF was created in 2002 to add new and to expand existing apprenticeship programs and offer education to the masonry industry.

FMAEF works closely with the Masonry Association of Florida (MAF) to establish industry standards on curriculum and credentialing. Employers and other support partners donate tools, equipment, and materials. FMAEF is also supported through the Florida Concrete Masonry Education Council (FCMEC).

FMAEF has developed an extensive network of employers who speak with construction classes, participate in open houses and career fairs, and provide shadowing and internship opportunities for students. Employers participate in local, state, and national Skills USA competitions as mentors, contest chairs, and judges.

Prospective participants can enter the program at multiple levels. Through pre-apprenticeship training completed at the high school level, at-risk youth programs such as Youth Build and AMI Kids, or any of the eight Florida Department of Corrections programs, students who have completed NCCER (National Center for Construction Education and Research) knowledge and performance levels can articulate credit earned into apprenticeship programs. The program also provides a process for adults seeking to enroll and establish proof of past experience.

By providing continuing options for articulation from pre-apprentice training into full masonry apprenticeship programs, FMAEF has developed a pipeline of talent for participating contractors and companies feeling the strain of a limited skilled labor pool. The commitment to using nationally recognized curriculum with stackable credentials provides for a growth model where employers can continue to educate and develop leaders in their prospective fields.

Download the press release (PDF).

Reseda Charter High School Police Academy Magnet

The Reseda Charter High School Police Academy Magnet opened in 1998. With “Preparing to Serve” as its motto, this Career Pathway’s mission is to prepare interested students for law enforcement careers, establish a bond between juveniles and local police officers, and produce highly capable citizens who will graduate from high school, go on to college, and serve in their communities.

This nationally recognized program commits students to a rigorous course of study involving honors curriculum; career technical education electives; a college course; physical training; and community service. In addition to the CTE teacher, a Los Angeles police officer and Los Angeles Unified School District police officer are assigned full-time positions in the program to teach, counsel, and mentor students through their Police Academy experience.

The Police Academy curriculum integrates law enforcement skills and knowledge into each core class.

Junior and senior cadets have the opportunity to job shadow as interns at local police stations during their winter, spring, and summer breaks. Cadets interview for intern positions and are assigned shifts and commanding officers. Interns provide customer service, work in the detective’s office, and assist the watch commander with street camera observation. Cadets who speak languages other than English serve as translators. The department helps these students gain skills in mediation and de-escalation techniques in preparation for the difficult situations in which police officers must often serve.

Reseda Charter High School’s Magnet was named a silver medal recipient by USA Today and a distinguished program by the Magnet Schools of America two years in a row for its outstanding graduation rates, attendance rates, and college acceptance rates.

Download the press release (PDF).

Port Houston Partners in Maritime Education

Port Houston Partners in Maritime Education (PHPME) is a high school through graduate school career pathway designed to help students acquire the education, skills, and credentials necessary to succeed in the maritime industry. Port Houston launched the program in 2009, along with industry leaders, educational institutions, and business organizations to address the local maritime industry’s aging workforce. Six high schools in four school districts adjacent to Port Houston offer the Maritime Academy pathway.

Participating students gain a deep awareness of maritime industry careers, learn valuable STEM-based industry knowledge, use state-of-the-art simulation equipment, and earn industry-valued credentials and dual credits. Outside the classroom students tour industry worksites, attend maritime industry forums, participate in internships, and earn college scholarships.

The four-year TEA-approved high school curriculum is based on a U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) model. The pathway introduces students to several industry sectors: maritime logistics, transportation and distribution; piloting and deck operations; maritime administration; marine engineering and naval architect; security and technology; and U.S. Coast Guard, Customs, and Border Patrol.

Since its inception, the program has had over 1200 students participate and in 2017-2018, there were 155 maritime high school graduates.

In addition, Port Houston collaborated with Texas Southern University (TSU) to develop a four-year academic degree program in Maritime Transportation Management and Security as well as developed partnerships with Texas A&M University Galveston, University of Houston, Houston Community College, Lee College, and San Jacinto College, whom all have maritime certificate and degree programs.

Download the press release (PDF).