Funding Supports Students in Navigating Graduation Requirements
As high school freshmen and sophomores return to school this fall—whether virtually or in-person—among the changes they face are ensuring that they meet new graduation requirements focused on career exploration and employment skills. Passed by the Indiana state legislature in 2018, the new requirements are designed to expose students to a variety of careers, customize students’ high school experiences to align with their career interests, and prepare students with employment skills.
To meet these new graduation requirements, school systems across Delaware County are “re-tooling” their curriculum offerings, creating new courses, and offering extra-curricular, service, and work-based learning opportunities for students. Administrators and school counselors are also tasked with creating record-keeping and tracking systems to ensure that students stay on track with requirements in advance of graduation. While the requirements go into full effect for the graduating class of 2023, districts across the county have already been phasing in graduation requirements for upperclassmen.
Now, districts are receiving additional support in implementing Graduation Pathways legislation through funding awarded by Ball Brothers Foundation. “We’ve long supported workforce development and education initiatives, and we are encouraged by recognition at the state level of the need to prepare students for the future through skills training, career exploration, and college readiness programs. At the same time, we understand that the Graduation Pathways legislation comes with significant record-keeping, reporting, and curriculum changes for schools,” stated Jud Fisher, president and chief operating officer of Ball Brothers Foundation.
To help support schools and students in meeting the new requirements, Ball Brothers Foundation is utilizing a two-prong funding approach.
First, funding has been awarded to hire a “Graduation Pathways Navigator” who will serve as a resource for school districts across the county to assist with Graduation Pathways implementation. Local nonprofit organization Project Leadership identified the need for such a position through monthly meetings it has been hosting for school counselors since 2018. These meetings are part of the work of the Delaware County Comprehensive Counseling Initiative, a collaboration of school districts supported through a $1.39 million grant from Lilly Endowment.
“The Graduation Pathways initiative is an unprecedented effort by our Delaware County school systems to collaborate around a common goal and that is to ensure individual career interests are met and needed academic, technical and employability skills are acquired by every Delaware County student to prepare for life after high school,” Project Leadership Director Tammy Pearson said. “Our energies will concentrate on further building bridges with local businesses to increase and deepen the real-world experiences our students need to be successful and our community needs to thrive."
In addition to funding for the Graduation Pathways Navigator position through Project Leadership, Ball Brothers Foundation also invited public schools across the county to submit “Rapid Grant” requests for Graduation Pathways implementation needs earlier this year. All of the districts which submitted proposals received $5,000. Awards included:
- Burris Laboratory School: Funding for a dedicated staff member to ensure compliance with Graduation Pathways. The employee is responsible for meeting with parents, students, counselors, teachers and administrators to individualize each student’s experience.
- Cowan Jr/Sr High School: Funding to purchase Graduation Pathways tracking software to assist in improving record-keeping efficiencies and allow school counseling staff to focus more time on direct student services.
- Daleville Community Schools: Funding to offer a Digital Applications course for sophomores, purchase software, and establish Daleville as a testing site. Upon completion of courses, students can earn a state and industry recognized certification.
- Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics, and Humanities: Funding to hire a BSU student worker to serve as the central data point entry and record coordinator for Graduation Pathways; funding will also support the purchase of a dedicated computer and supplies.
- Liberty-Perry Schools: Funding to explore the creation of student activities that promote employment skill attainment, teacher training and development for new course offerings, certification testing costs, and partnership development specifically in manufacturing and healthcare industries.
- Muncie Community Schools: Funding to write new curriculum for 7th & 8th grade courses, purchase materials, and support online resource costs. These efforts will better prepare students to enter Muncie Central High School with a personal understanding of career opportunities, postsecondary pathways, personal financial responsibility, business communications skills, and the use of technology.
- Wes-Del Community Schools: Funding to further develop Culinary Arts and Early Childhood pathway programs, including material and supplies upgrades.
Project Leadership is currently accepting applications for the “Graduation Pathways Navigator” position. To view the job description, visit
To learn more about the state’s “Graduation Pathways” requirements, visit https://www.doe.in.gov/graduation-pathways.