At a Glance
Career Street is a program that connects Erie County, Pennsylvania schools with employers and organizations in order to provide meaningful career-related experiences to students in grades kindergarten through 12.
Career Street is a community service program of the Erie County Vocational-Technical School (ECVTS) Foundation. As stated on their website: “Career Street is a comprehensive career exploration and planning program linking businesses, nonprofit organizations, and schools to create and share experiences for students to job shadow, intern, tour companies, benefit from class speakers, and participate in career workshops and fairs.”
Career Street is a resource that serves multiple stakeholders:
- K-12 students gain a better understanding of the region’s workforce and the skills and pathways that lead to these careers, helping them to make more informed postsecondary decisions.
- Teachers expand their awareness of the regional workforce and gain understanding of the skills and work attitudes employers expect.
- Employers and organizations engage with school leaders and students in a meaningful and purposeful way.
To use Career Street, school districts, employers, and organizations register and create an informational profile on the Career Street website. Employers and organizations indicate the type of career activities they are able to provide.
All of Erie County’s school districts along with the Catholic Diocese have joined Career Street. Each district designates a program liaison, typically a high school guidance counselor. When a teacher wishes to arrange a career-related experience for students, he/she contacts the district liaison with a request. The liaison accesses Career Street’s interactive database to find and schedule a relevant experience.
School districts pay an annual membership fee entitling them to unlimited use of the database and reimbursement for some related costs such as bus transportation and substitute teachers. Career Street also offers mini-grants.
Origin / Implementation
Career Street was developed through Erie Together, a coalition of individuals, organizations, and businesses working to improve economic opportunities in the region. In discussing regional unemployment, Erie Together stakeholders identified a disconnect: employers were experiencing unfilled positions with few applicants while school leaders reported that graduates were not finding local work opportunities. Using grant funding, Erie Together members reviewed emerging and best practices in other communities and synthesized their findings to create and launch Career Street in February 2014.
Prior to Career Street, some teachers and schools developed partnerships with employers and organizations to provide career experiences for their students. However, the benefits and rewards of these relationships were not often shared outside of a few classrooms or one school. Career Street allows businesses to reach a wide range of students while eliminating the time-consuming work that teachers dedicated to finding and establishing connections with employer and organization partners.
In summer 2015, a group of teachers assisted Career Street in developing resource documents designed to improve career experiences both students and the volunteers engaging with them. These include Speakers in the Classroom: Tips for Speakers and Tips for Teachers; Workplace Tours: Tips for Teachers and Tips for Host Companies; and Presentation Talking Points.
Career Street is facilitated by a full-time executive director and an advisory board of community leaders.
Results / Impact
From its launch in February 2014 through May 2016, Career Street has assisted employers and schools in making over 265 matches resulting in 12,565 student experiences. As of 2016, 43 schools and more than 115 businesses were registered with Career Street.
At present, Career Street is most heavily utilized by high schools. One of Career Street’s goals is to increase its engagement with middle school students so that 80 percent of all Erie County students have at least three career-related experiences by the end of eighth grade.
Career Street aims to remain sustainable using three tiers of funding: private sector donations, grants, and school memberships. Its success has generated interest from other communities and, as a result, Career Street is now trademarked with hopes of expanding to other communities in the future.
Career Street Erie
Jennifer Nygaard Pontzer, Executive Director