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Mapleton Early Career Prep a semifinalist in national career competition

Mapleton Early Career Prep (MEC) was just selected as a semifinalist in the Career Z Challenge, a national prize competition to help students prepare for life after graduation. The competition, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, seeks creative ideas “to expand student access to high-quality work-based learning opportunities that prepare students to be contributing members of today’s workforce and propel them into successful careers of the future.”

Mapleton Early Career Prep was among 100 schools, local education agencies, and nonprofit organizations from 35 states selected as semifinalists. They were chosen for the quality of proposed business plans they would use to teach students, which will involve collaboration with educators, workforce professionals, and community stakeholders to provide students with meaningful career development experiences.

“We feel really privileged to be part of such an impressive group,” said Mapleton Early Career Prep Internship Coordinator Lisa Hollingsworth. “There are some serious programs on that list, so that speaks highly of what they think our kids can do.”

Each semifinalist will receive $10,000 to fund their plans. Mapleton Early Career Prep will start a student driven store, which will open by January 2024, that will sell school merchandise and other goods, and form a career and technical student organization to manage it. Students will also work with community organizations, like the Thornton Chamber of Commerce, to not only provide guidance on business decisions, but also help find products to purchase at a reasonable rate.

“This will give our kids great exposure in skills like networking and entrepreneurship, which will help them so much after high school,” said Hollingsworth.

The school will also likely use part of their awarded funds to pay for business club memberships and to support a computer program to manage its students’ internships, a major part of MEC’s curriculum.

Each Career Z Challenge semifinalist will be judged on the strength of their programs next summer. In August 2024, up to 10 finalists will be selected to expand their programs, with even more resources, with an opportunity to receive prize awards of $150,000. Good luck, MEC!