Gov. Jay Nixon today joined University of Central Missouri President Chuck Ambrose to launch the UCM Innovation Campus, a new partnership that will train students for career opportunities in high-demand fields, cut the time it takes to earn a college degree, and reduce student debt.
Gov. Nixon's administration is supporting the UCM Innovation Campus through a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant to underwrite real-world apprenticeships and training opportunities for students at businesses like Cerner, Exergonix Inc., Sprint and DST.
"The Innovation Campus will create a direct pathway for Missouri students from the classroom to training for career opportunities in high-demand fields," Gov. Nixon said. "This program will train students for solid careers in growing industries, while also cutting the time it takes for students to earn a degree and reducing student debt. I commend the University of Central Missouri and all the project's partners for pioneering this outstanding concept, and I look forward to working with our other colleges and universities to adapt the Innovation Campus model across our state."
Beginning this fall, the UCM Innovation Campus program will enroll up to 30 students who are currently high school juniors at Summit Technology Academy, a pre-professional, technical school operated by the Lee's Summit R-7 School District that serves students from an area-wide consortium of 16 area high schools. UCM officials expect to expand the program to 50 or 60 more students in year two and up to 100 students in year three.
These students will receive intensive guidance during high school to prepare to earn degrees in information technology and applied science at the University of Central Missouri. As the Innovation Campus grows, additional areas of study will be added based on the Missouri Strategic Initiative for Economic Growth and employer demand.
During high school, Innovation Campus students will be directed toward courses and programs specifically designed to train them to study science and technology and to cut the time needed to earn their degree. Through increased opportunities for dual-credit courses at Metropolitan Community College, and through other programs such as Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate, Innovation Campus students will have the opportunity to earn 30 college credit hours or more while still in high school.
Beginning in high school and continuing once in college, Innovation Campus students also will participate in apprenticeship training with local business partners, such as Cerner, Exergonix Inc., Sprint and DST. These apprenticeships will reinforce the concepts students are learning in the classroom and provide on-the-job training. The grant funding provided by Gov. Nixon's administration will underwrite these apprenticeships and cover costs associated with on-the-job training for the students.
"The Innovation Campus is the result of outstanding collaboration between public education and the private sector to prepare students for the careers of tomorrow," President Ambrose said. "Through the Innovation Campus, we are shaping a new model for higher education, reducing the burden of debt, and training students for jobs today and careers of the future. We are committed to growing the Innovation Campus to help move Missouri's economy forward, and we appreciate Gov. Nixon's strong support."
To participate in the program, the corporate partners will commit to creating or retraining a specified number of jobs. Innovation Campus students would be highly trained candidates for these new positions once they have completed their degrees and the apprenticeship training.
Last week, Gov. Nixon announced that his administration will provide $10 million in competitive grants to adapt the Innovation Campus to serve more Missouri employers whose need more workers with specific training and skills. Gov. Nixon's administration will be ready to solicit applications for those competitive grants on March 1, with funding to be available by July 1. More information on that competitive grant process will be released in the coming weeks.
"From day one, I have been committed to building training pathways for Missouri students to the jobs and careers of tomorrow," Gov. Nixon said. "I encourage all of Missouri's public colleges and universities to look for ways to adapt the Innovation Campus model in every corner of our state."