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For Immediate Release: Dec. 12, 2006
Contact: Mary Stadick Smith - (605) 773-7228

South Dakota receives State Scholars grant

South Dakota has been awarded a $300,000 grant to implement a State Scholars Initiative. A national business-education partnership, the State Scholars Initiative is designed to increase the number of students who take a rigorous high school curriculum. SSI core classes closely resemble those required under South Dakota’s new graduation requirements.

“This initiative makes that important connection between academics and careers,” said Gov. Mike Rounds. “It helps young people understand the importance of planning for their future, and it encourages them to take the rigorous courses they need to be successful as they continue their education and enter the workforce.” Implementation of a business-education partnership is part of the governor’s 2010 Education Initiative.

The South Dakota State Chamber of Commerce and Industry in association with the South Dakota Department of Education received the grant from the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education. Over the next two years, the partners will collaborate to implement the initiative in four pilot schools. Each will have a special area of focus.

• Sisseton will concentrate on health careers.

• Sturgis will emphasize information technology careers.

• Vermillion will focus on careers in hospitality and tourism.

• Wagner will focus on careers in agriculture, food and natural resources.

SSI provides special incentives and support to help students succeed while pursuing rigorous core course requirements. It brings business leaders into the classroom to talk about the real-world value of a challenging curriculum. Through the program, students develop personal learning plans based on individual academic and career goals. The initiative complements the state’s Career Clusters program, aimed at preparing students for postsecondary education.

“Our schools simply must prepare students for the workplace of the future. Our students need to be able to compete with the rest of the world,” said David Owen, president of the State Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “The more stringent requirements of the State Scholars program, and those adopted by the state of South Dakota, are a good step in this direction.”

South Dakota, Missouri, New Hampshire and Wyoming were selected to join 20 other states that have implemented the SSI over the last two years.