Jackson, MS – AccelerateMS is happy to announce a $7.99M investment in Mississippi high schools to support a significant expansion of an innovative career coach program in Mississippi public high schools.
The program, which was created through House Bill 1388 and funded through House Bill 1517 of the 2022 Legislative Session, aims to connect and prepare high school students with Mississippi’s most in-demand careers. The almost $8 million award is funded through funds made available through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). As a result of this, and other projects, Mississippi’s career coach program is increasing by 500% from 20 coaches to 120 coaches.
“We believe that access to one-on-one career coaching will open the eyes of MS high school students to the kinds of high-tech, high-skill jobs available, right here, at home,” said AccelerateMS Executive Director Ryan Miller. “We’ve seen this model create a positive impact in communities across the state and believe that, with support from elected officials and members of business and industry, this program will continue to take that impact and grow it exponentially.”
Once agreements are finalized, money will be awarded to seven grantee organizations, which will hire and deploy career coaches to 125 schools within their geographic areas. Those organizations include:
* Central Mississippi Planning and Development District
* South Delta Planning and Development District
* Three Rivers Planning and Development District
* North Central Planning and Development District
* South MS Planning and Development District
* Simpson County Development Foundation
* Economic Development Authority of Jones County
“Many students are still considered the first generation in many households. Accelerate MS career coaching opportunities will provide students with a powerful pathway for determining a career path. In contrast, students will have a career coach helping students sort through the maze of reaching the dream of having a productive career,” said Jessie King, Superintendent, Leland School District
The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) recommends a student-to-counselor ratio of no more than 250 students for every school counselor. During the 2020-2021 academic year, Mississippi’s student-to-counselor ratio was 398-to-1. According to the ASCA, lower ratios increase the likelihood of students having conversations with school counselors regarding college and career plans.
School counselors manage testing, provide mental health support, address disciplinary issues, and provide career counseling.
“For some students, their high school counselor is the single point of access for conversations around career plans after high school,” said AccelerateMS Program Manager Lori Nail. “Mississippi counselors have extremely full plates and are, often unable to provide the amount of one-on-one career counseling they would like to. Through this program, we are hoping to increase capacity for the kind of robust career planning supports students need.”
Although AccelerateMS career coaches will be embedded in schools and school districts, they will not be local school or district employees. Career coaches will report directly to AccelerateMS and will focus solely on interacting with students to improve outcomes in career planning and pursuit.