Top 7 Things We’re Watching This School Year

With school back in full swing, here are the top seven things YouthForce NOLA is excited about this year:


In just three years, the YouthForce NOLA network has helped 600+ Orleans public high school students earn employer-validated, industry-based credentials – up from only 45 in 2014. We started this fall semester halfway to our goal of 400 credentials for the Class of ‘19, and we’re working closely with students and partners the rest of the year to exceed it!

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Newly-opened this year, our partners at the Career Center are helping more than 120 students from seven Orleans public schools learn skills and earn industry-recognized credentials in healthcare and engineering/manufacturing. The vision is that, over time, the Career Center will build out and expand additional career pathways options and technical training providers will co-locate with the Career Center in order to provide a singular, citywide destination for technical training. More at


A new cohort of teachers has begun learning ways to spread soft skills instruction across their schools and help their students develop skills critical for educational, career, and life success. Seventy five percent of school teams are from schools that participated last year, enabling us to build onto existing programs. And we’re excited to welcome new fellows from Rooted School as we explore how soft skills integration can bolster student success in a self-directed environment.

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Each year, freshmen from YouthForce NOLA partner schools navigate possible career pathways at an interactive Career Expo managed by Junior Achievement (JA) of Greater New Orleans. Mirroring this success, for the first time this January, we’ll be partnering with Delgado Community College and JA to offer a similar experience to 8th graders, so students can explore different career pathways and inform their high school choices.


Soon, we’ll be announcing new members of the YouthForce High Schools Collaborative. The open-enrollment schools in the Collaborative receive support from YouthForce NOLA, including coaching, industry connections, internship programming, family engagement resources, and planning tools. Some schools will also receive financial support to help them implement expanded coursework and programs.


Schools are piloting this new course in partnership with Louisiana Department of Education to help middle and high school students develop essential workplace skills, explore various careers and industry sectors, and learn about themselves and their interests in order to successfully navigate high school, post-secondary education, and career pathways. The course was developed by educators from across the state, including YouthForce NOLA staff and representatives from schools in the YouthForce Schools Collaborative.

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YouthForce NOLA Steering Committee member GNO, Inc. regularly releases reports that we use to guide our collective work, including data on the workforce needs of industries with the highest potential for growth. The economic development organization recently shared details about middle-skill jobs (those that require some education or training beyond high-school but less than a bachelor’s degree) that make up 47% of all jobs in the Greater New Orleans region. These jobs offer high wages and are an entry point into even higher-wage careers. We’re using this data to ensure that our programs align with the skills needed for the high-wage jobs of the future.

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Jasmine Henderson