$9.5M grant to broaden DC students’ access to careers, college credits

A $9.5 million gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies will help Washington, DC’s Advanced Technical Center (ATC) expand its training for local high-school students interested in high-demand careers in health care, The Washington Post reports. Launched in 2022, the ATC offers two-year Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs 9th-11th grade students at DC Public Schools and public charter schools. Students earn industry credentials and college credit aligned with the cybersecurity and nursing programs at the University of the District of Columbia and Trinity Washington University, respectively.

This year, around 200 students commuted between their primary high school and ATC to take classes in anatomy and physiology, medical microbiology, and digital forensics. The ATC is “part of our work to reimagine high school and to blur the lines between high school, college, and career,” DC Mayor Muriel Bowser said at a news conference, according to the Post.

“It is training that connects our students to jobs that exist and need DC residents to fill them in Washington, DC, right now,” said Bowser. “We want every student who goes to our public schools to graduate and be ready for their next step.” 

The ATC is part of a larger effort within the District and nationwide to provide more vocational programs that prepare students for future careers, whether they choose to enroll in college or enter the workforce after high school. Preparing students for health care jobs might also help the city address its shortages in nursing and other careers in the industry.

Positioning more students for postsecondary success

The donation, which the District plans to match with local funding, will support the ATC’s plans to expand its location in Northwest Washington’s Ward 5 and open a new location in Southwest Washington’s Ward 8. Students at the Ward 8 campus will obtain practical work experience at Cedar Hill Regional Medical Center GW Health, which will be the District’s first new inpatient hospital in DC in 20 years when it opens in 2025. The ATC’s expansion also includes a bridge program designed by the DC Hospital Association, which links ATC graduates to clinics, hospitals, and other health care facilities. 

Students attending the ATC say they enjoy exploring their academic and career interests and mention the school’s supportive environment. They also have higher rates of class attendance than their peers. Interest in the ATC has also doubled in its first two years. Since 2022, enrollment has grown from 96 students to 191 students for the 2023-24 academic year, according to a press release from Mayor Bowser’s office. In January, the ATC received a $4.1 million grant from the Biden-Harris Administration to increase enrollment to 300 students a year. The new Ward 8 location, set to open in 2025, will initially serve 75 students before enrolling more students each year. 

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