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Pinellas Education Foundation named a finalist for US Department of Education challenge

An online program created by the Pinellas Education Foundation was named a finalist Wednesday in a national competition to help students navigate through life after high school.

The U.S.. Department of Education and Reach Higher, an initiative by First Lady Michelle Obama, awarded $25,000 to the educational nonprofit for its development of Future Plans, an assessment tool that assesses users interests and abilities and connects them to educational tracks and in-demand career choices. The Foundation is one of five finalists in the competition, and a grand prize winner will be announced this summer and given $100,000.

"I think every adult who runs into a 16-, 17-, or 18-year-old asks the question, 'What's your future plan?'" said Terry Boehm, the foundation's president. "And it's frustrating for a young person when they don't have the answer."

Boehm announced last month that he would step down in 2017 to scale-up and expand Future Plans around the country.

Through Future Plans, users can explore the routes of higher education, technical college, the work force or the military. After an 11-step assessment, a 25-page report is generated to summarize options leading to in-demand careers. Users will then have access to resources in those fields, like job postings, resume builders and information about scholarships and the SAT/ACT standardized college acceptance exams.

Students could share their reports with their guidance counselors and plot a plan for their postsecondary career.

Future Plans was created five years ago for schools in the Pinellas County school district, and higher-ups at the foundation saw a way to expand the product and market it to other school districts and adult education centers with the intention of raising money for the foundation. The product has now been live for two years and has been piloted at Robinson High School in Tampa, Lake County and in Georgia.

"It's a good way to align other people up with opportunities," Boehm said.

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 11, 2016 1:17pm]


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