The Wenatchee School District’s Wenatchee Learns Connect business partnership center has been selected by the National Governors (NGA) Policy Academy on Work-Based Learning as a learning laboratory for best practices in work-based learning. Work-based learning is defined as a continuum of awareness, exploration, preparation and work experiences developed through strong public and private partnerships. Work-based learning includes career exploration activities such as job shadows, internships, mentorship and other experiences that help students to develop academic, technical, trade and entrepreneurial skills. Learning labs provide WBL experiences to individuals age 16-29, with an emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) for economically disadvantaged individuals.As a Learning Lab, Wenatchee Learns Connect is awarded $15,000 to support work-based learning initiatives and will provide an ‘under the hood’ look at promising practices, and outcomes, programs, materials, tools and resources that support successful work-based learning programs. Representatives from the Wenatchee School District and Wenatchee Learns Connect will be invited to present program information and performance metrics in Olympia at the Governor’s Summit on Youth Employment and Work-Based Learning in May 2017.The NGA is working to develop a set of meaningful policy recommendations and coalitions of support to scale up the availability of high quality work-based learning (WBL) across Washington State and the nation. Information collected from learning labs will help NGA understand what makes an effective work-based learning program and the state and national policies needed to support them. Washington is one of six states (Indiana, Iowa, Montana, New Hampshire and Utah) chosen by the NGA to participate in learning labs and identify best practice work-based learning models.“It’s an incredible honor to be chosen as a learning lab”, says Diana Haglund, coordinator for Wenatchee Learns. "We started the work of Wenatchee Learns with the help of our community. Their ongoing support of work-based learning and career connections is further reinforced in the Our Valley What’s Next community visioning report. I’m excited to share our secret sauce for effective work-based learning strategies in Wenatchee with our state and nation with the hope that other communities can benefit from our experiences."About the National Governors Association (NGA) Policy AcademyWashington was awarded a $100,000 grant from the National Governors Association to create a policy framework to increase work-based learning for youth ages 16-29, particularly in STEM fields. The Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board was honored to be asked by Governor Inslee to lead the effort on the policy academy. The Workforce Board and the Governor's Office will co-chair the Core Team.Core team members: Association of Washington Businesses, Department of Commerce, Department of Social and Health Services, Employment Security, Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, Washington Building & Construction Trades Council, Washington STEM and Washington Student Achievement Council.Increasing access to work-based learning is a longstanding initiative of the Workforce Board and its Core Team partners. The Policy Academy will work to connect young adults to middle-skill opportunities in STEM fields, including advanced manufacturing, healthcare, IT, and energy.About the National Governors Association (NGA)The National Governors Association (NGA) is the bipartisan organization of the nation’s governors. Through NGA, governors share best practices, speak with a collective voice on national policy and develop innovative solutions that improve state government and support the principles of federalism. Through NGA, governors identify priority issues and deal collectively with matters of public policy and governance at the state and national levels.About Wenatchee Learns Connect:Wenatchee Learns Connect partnerships center taps the power of the whole community by connecting volunteers with Wenatchee Public Schools and through the cultivation of business-education partnerships. Wenatchee Learns supports career connected learning in the Wenatchee School District through work-based learning, career exploration events, college and career readiness curriculum and resources.

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