Premont Independent School District has partnered with the Rural Schools Innovation Zone (RSIZ) to develop the Leaders in Future Technology (LIFT) Capstone and serve students in RSIZ Career Academies. This partnership serves a population of 25 students in 11th and 12th grades throughout each year of the Rural Tech Project. The students participating in the LIFT Capstone are representative of the region’s demographics — 70% are economically disadvantaged, 10% qualify for special education services, and many reside in remote areas with no access to internet or broadband. In fact, the RSIZ campus provides the sole source of reliable internet for much of the community. There is a pressing need to provide technology education at no additional cost to the students; to meet this need, RSIZ’s program is providing all resources (including laptops, internet, transportation, and mentoring) to participating students free of charge.
RSIZ has developed a Rural Tech Project program that aims to achieve three key goals. First, this program will boost student participation and representation by ensuring capstone students will accurately reflect enrollment from the three school district partners, including gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. Second, it aims to secure more student outcomes and opportunities, with the hope that Capstone participants express interest in technology by enrolling in a technology-related postsecondary program, building technology products to solve community problems, and entering the workforce in a technology-related occupation. Third, it hopes to continue the program as a Capstone experience for RSIZ academy students after the Rural Tech Project funds are exhausted.
The RSIZ LIFT Tech Startup Incubator has launched with the implementation of Phase 2. Students are developing technology-enabled solutions to address challenges in their community, with the end goal of pitching solutions to a judging panel at the year’s end. The program has selected 11 students, with two of the five RSIZ Career Academies represented. Students from all three RSIZ school district partners are represented. Students will earn competency-based badges through IBM SkillsBuild in Emerging Technology and Professional Skills in a Digital World, while learning entrepreneurship principles delivered by their Academy instructors. From August to April, each Academy Team will develop a technology-enabled solution to help solve a community-wide challenge faced by its academy’s industry.
How to get in touch:
- Community Engagement Manager: CareerCraft led by Heather Thomas
- Team Lead: Michael Gonzalez
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