The Rapides Foundation's Education Initiative includes a focus on Career and Postsecondary Readiness to ensure students are prepared for success beyond high school. We carry out this work through a Career and Technical Education component that supports the Cenla Work Ready Network; and through a College and Career Counseling component.
Assessments of Central Louisiana show that many young Cenla residents are not prepared for the next step after high school, and as a result are not in a position to obtain jobs that will ensure their future economic well-being. This translates into unfilled jobs in high-demand industry sectors, which detracts from Cenla's economic growth. There is a danger that too few young adults could have the skills and credentials to assume the high-demand and high-wage occupations that currently exist in Cenla, as well as those that will materialize in the near future.
Career and Technical Education
Through our Career and Technical Education programs, Cenla residents are given the opportunity and support to earn a credential or degree that will put them in a position for a rewarding job that offers a good quality of life. Current work under this area is being implemented through the Cenla Work Ready Network, a system designed to link education and workforce development efforts and align them with regional economic needs.
These Career Readiness programs, which are administered by The Orchard Foundation, focus on achieving career and postsecondary success through implementation of counseling, credential and advance credit programs. In addition, Orchard offers several programs and camps for teachers to learn how to translate the skills needed in today's workforce into their classrooms.
College and Career Counseling
To support the college and career readiness effort, the Foundation brought Career Compass of Louisiana to Central Louisiana to work with area schools to provide college and career coaching to students. Career Compass is a nonprofit education organization located in Baton Rouge with coaches across the state.
In Central Louisiana, Career Compass coaches partner with high school guidance counselors and are an added resource for the students on their campus. Career Compass coaches act as a liaison between the students of Central Louisiana and postsecondary institutions in the state, helping students find the right school for their needs.
Among the services offered to students by Career Compass coaches are assistance in navigating through the complexities of applying to postsecondary institutions, helping students go through a "career inventory" to find out what their interests and strengths are, and building good relationships with parents and guardians to assist with applications and securing financial aid for their students.