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Chicago Public Schools and City Colleges Of Chicago Launch Career-Focused Model Pathway In Healthcare At Eight High Schools

18 May 2021

Students at eight CPS high schools will have access to an early college curriculum in healthcare, and opportunity to earn 15 college credits along with their high school diploma

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CHICAGO – Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) today announced that a new pilot will expand healthcare programming to eight CPS high schools as part of the Chicago Roadmap, an unprecedented collaboration that increases postsecondary opportunities for Chicago’s youth. The Healthcare Model Pathway pilot program will allow students to participate in college coursework and earn up to 15 college credits along with their high school diploma. Through the pilot, students will complete early college coursework, including key biology and healthcare courses, and will have the option to complete the coursework for the Certified Nursing Assistant Certificate.

“The pandemic has exacerbated many systemic inequities that have long plagued our city, one of which is access to healthcare,” said Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “Now, more than ever, our residents deserve to be served by healthcare workers who look like them or share similar experiences as them so they can receive high-quality, affordable and culturally-sensitive care. That’s why it is essential that we prepare our young people to pursue careers in healthcare and set them up to not only find individual success, but help their communities succeed as well.

“Through the Chicago Roadmap partnership with City Colleges of Chicago, we are re-evaluating our CTE programs and, in this pilot, taking them a step further, fully integrating college coursework with a career focus as early as freshman year,” said CPS CEO Dr. Janice K. Jackson. 

“This pilot program builds off of the successful dual credit programs that have grown substantially at CPS over the last several years,” said Chancellor Juan Salgado. “Through the collaboration between CCC and CPS faculty and staff, we are able to provide Chicago students with free college-level coursework that results in college credit and college credentials with real value in the marketplace.”

This fall, students at CVCA, Dunbar, Gage Park, Instituto Health Sciences, Juarez, North-Grand, South Shore, and Washington will have the opportunity to complete courses in the model pathway and choose a health pathway of interest to them by completing key biology and healthcare prerequisite courses. The offerings will prepare students to launch healthcare careers such as physicians, dentists, nurses, radiographers, dental hygienists, physical therapy assistants, respiratory care techs, occupational therapy assistants and more.

Students will begin freshman year with an introduction to healthcare professions and then in sophomore year with a college-level course in medical terminology. At the same time, they will also begin a math and science curriculum that will prepare them to take college-level chemistry, English, biology, physics, and math by senior year, if not before. Students will also take part in site visits, team-based challenges, job shadowing, occupation orientations and will visit with industry guest speakers at the start of their freshman year. Some students will take a summer internship in healthcare in their senior year along with a clinical practicum or be placed in a youth apprenticeship through our Career Launch partnership with partners like Rush University Medical Center.

“The Rush Education and Career Hub (REACH) is proud to partner with this innovative effort that will provide more Chicago youth with the opportunity to channel their intellect towards careers in healthcare. Chicago’s future as a global leader in healthcare delivery and innovation depends upon a pipeline of smart, skilled professionals and this program is a key on-ramp for youth,” said Rukiya Curvey Johnson, Executive Director of the Rush Education & Career Hub.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the health sciences is a high-wage and high-demand occupational category. As of the third quarter of 2020, annual mean wages for health science jobs in Cook County are significantly higher ($71,500/annual) than the mean across all occupations ($59,600/annual), and unemployment rates for these occupations (4.6%) were also much lower than the Cook County average for all professions (9.5%).

The Chicago Roadmap is an unprecedented partnership between Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) to support students along a seamless path to and through college on the way to their chosen careers. Through the Roadmap, CPS and CCC are transforming their relationship from a successful collaboration to convergence, with alignment at every level of our organizations. By providing access to high-quality programs, advising and supports, career exploration, and preparedness, the Roadmap strives to dramatically and equitably increase student outcomes in college enrollment, college degree attainment, and employment.

This model pathway in health sciences is made possible thanks in part to generous philanthropic contributions made to the Children First Fund: the Chicago Public Schools Foundation (CFF) and the City Colleges of Chicago Foundation (CCCF). Children First Fund serves as a fiscal sponsor for the Chicago Roadmap and works in close partnership with CCCF to support the advancement of the Chicago Roadmap.

Chicago Public Schools serves 341,000 students in 638 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.