Park Hill, Platte County districts to benefit from innovative educational partnership

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon came to North Kansas City, Mo., on Tuesday, Jan. 6 to announce a groundbreaking program to put Missouri students, including those in the Platte County R-3 and Park Hill districts, on a fast-track to jobs in high-demand fields without taking on debt. He joined local business and education leaders at Cerner World Headquarters to celebrate the official designation of the Northland CAPS Innovation Campus and to announce the awarding of a $450,000 grant to help fund the initiative, which gives students the opportunity to earn college credit while in high school and participate in internships at area businesses. “Missouri’s Innovation Campus initiative has become a national model for providing our future workforce with more skills, in less time and at a lower cost,” Nixon said. “The Northland CAPS Innovation Campus is already putting hundreds of students on a fast-track to success in future careers, and this official designation will ensure that hundreds more will have this opportunity in the years ahead.”

Last September, Nixon announced that USA Funds, a national nonprofit, had selected Missouri to receive a $1 million grant to expand the Missouri Innovation Campus initiative. Northwest Missouri State University’s $450,000 grant came from this.

Other higher education institutions receiving Innovation Campus grants include Missouri State University ($185,000) and the University of Central Missouri ($350,000). In total, the grant will allow an additional 400 students from these institutions to participate in the initiative.

Northwest Missouri State University also received an additional $385,000 from a second $1 million grant USA Funds awarded to Missouri to provide greater access to competency-based education. Other higher education institutions receiving competency-based education grants include Missouri State University ($100,000), University of Central Missouri ($100,000) and Truman State ($400,000).

“Missouri’s competency-based education initiatives help students earn quality postsecondary credentials in less time and at less cost, while also preparing them for high-demand occupations,” said Anna Gatlin, USA Funds director of state engagement and relations. “Consistent with USA Funds’ focus on postsecondary education Completion With a Purpose, we are pleased to support these innovative college and career preparation initiatives as models for other states to adopt.”

The Northland CAPS Innovation Campus is a partnership between Metropolitan Community College (MCC), Northwest Missouri State University, the Cerner Corporation and other Kansas City area businesses, along with Northland CAPS, which includes the Kearney, Liberty, North Kansas City, Park Hill, Platte County and Smithville school districts.

Working together, Innovation Campus partners provide high school students enrolled in the Northland CAPS program the opportunity to earn dual college credit through MCC.

Students also have the opportunity to earn three hours of dual college credit from Northwest by successfully completing internships with any of the approximately 90 Innovation Campus industry partners in the North Kansas City area. This year, more than 300 students are enrolled in the Northland CAPS Innovation Campus initiative, with local school districts projecting additional growth in the 2015-2016 school year.

In 2012, Nixon launched the Innovation Campus initiative to establish partnerships between local high schools, community colleges, four-year colleges and universities, and area businesses. The goal of the Innovation Campus program is to train students for career opportunities in high-demand fields while cutting the time it takes to earn a college degree and reducing student debt.