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Career and Technical Education and work-based learning programs are experiencing a resurgence in popularity, but tend to be primarily job skills driven. This narrow approach overlooks the greater potential of these programs as drivers of increased character development, civic engagement, and social impact. Our intent is to accelerate a shift in these programs to be equally focused on beneficial purpose development as compared to vocational skills.

Big Question 1: How can a Community of Practice enable educators at schools with CTE and work-based learning programs to become more reflective and intentional about how they work with underserved youth to develop character and purpose?

Big Question 2: How can CTE and work-based learning programs be updated, reprioritized, and refined to be equally focused on beneficial purpose development as compared to vocational skills?

We will establish a CoP to foster virtual and face-to-face collaboration between educators, school leaders, students, parents, and national experts. We will provide each school with educator training and resources from national experts in how to develop beneficial purpose and ongoing coaching to integrate aligned curriculum into their school model. As schools implement purpose development curriculum with students, they will share back resources, adaptations, and lessons learned to the CoP.

We will conduct a mixed-methods research study so the program can be informed by research evidence and adjusted in response to qualitative data collected from educators and students in the first year. A quantitative study in the second year will evaluate the effectiveness of integrating beneficial purpose development with CTE and work-based high school programs.

We anticipate that this work will result in an ongoing CoP among Philadelphia educators, that purpose development will become an integral part of each schools’ curriculum and a pervasive part of the culture of the schools.