MDRC highlights YouthForce NOLA, an example of a promising career pathways initiative that incorporates elements of career academies.

 The initiative aims to prepare New Orleans public high school students for postsecondary education opportunities and careers in three industry clusters with strong local employer demand and family-supporting wages — health sciences, creative media and technology, and skilled crafts, such as advanced manufacturing and construction. 

Recognizing the dual need to better prepare New Orleans students for academic and economic success while meeting employer demand for skilled workers, a group of education, business, and community leaders launched YouthForce NOLA in 2015. The organization’s three main goals are to increase the number of students who (1) earn credentials recognized by regional high-wage, high-demand industries; (2) complete YouthForce internships; and (3) graduate from high school with career-ready soft skills (for example, meeting employers’ expectations and working cooperatively with others). The longer-term goal is to increase students’ educational attainment, employment, and earnings and ultimately to strengthen the local economy.