Since joining the Network only a year ago, Delaware has made rapid progress in laying the groundwork for a statewide system of grades 9-14 pathways. The state’s commitment to the Pathways work starts at the top: Governor Jack Markell highlighted the role of Pathways to Prosperity in helping the state achieve its college completion goal, the Delaware Promise, in his January 2015 State of the State address. Since then, Gov. Markell has spoken about the role of Pathways to Prosperity in his education strategy in forums ranging from the National Governors Association to the New America Foundation. Joining the Governor’s Office in leading the Delaware Pathways work is a strong state-level team that includes the Department of Education, the Department of Labor, the Delaware Workforce Investment Board, the Delaware Economic Development Office, Delaware Technical Community College, the Delaware Business Roundtable Education Committee, and the Rodel Foundation. This representation from across sectors and the commitment of the leadership team—which meets every week via phone—have played a big part in Delaware’s ability to get the Pathways work off the ground quickly.
Several statewide initiatives that support pathways development are already underway. This spring, Gov. Markell announced that 15 high schools would receive Innovation Grants for career pathways work from the Department of Education. The state has allocated $500,000 in Perkins funding for each of the next two years for the grants, which support the development of pathways in high-priority industry sectors in Delaware: computer science, culinary and hospitality, engineering, and biomedical sciences. The Governor’s Office is also working through the Department of Education to increase the number of dually enrolled students in the state; the Department of Education is paying the cost of dual enrollment for students who would otherwise be unable to afford to take advantage of these opportunities. The number of dually enrolled Delaware students has more than doubled since last year. The Delaware SPARC initiative—a collaborative effort of the Department of Education, Delaware Business Roundtable Education Committee, and United Way of Delaware—is linking employers and high schools across the state.