Northern Essex, Haverhill High Plan STEM Tech Career Academy with $1M Government grant

Haverhill High School and Northern Essex Community College are partnering to launch a STEM tech careers academy next spring, focused on providing free education to students studying in manufacturing, healthcare and environmental and life sciences to offer.

The institutions will build on existing early college and innovation pathway programs and will include Lawrence General Hospital, Whittier Health Networks, Holy Family Hospital, New Balance and Hydracor as industry partners.

“The ultimate aim is to have a quality work-based study program in place for around 400 students when this academy is fully operational,” says Northern Essex Provost Paul Beaudin. “We are delighted to have been selected as one of five partnerships for this initiative. This confirms our longstanding partnership with Haverhill High School.”

When the program is ready to launch in Fall 2025, participating Haverhill High students will earn between 18 and 24 college credits before graduating from high school. They will then transfer to Northern Essex where they will complete their associate degrees. The program includes internships at both the high school and college levels. Classes are held at Haverhill High School and on its Northern Essex campus.

Aaron Altman, Associate Dean of K-12 Partnerships in Northern Essex said: “Rather than thinking about college or career, this opportunity is so exciting that it offers a unique approach to finding the connection between college and career, what more leads to opportunities for our students.”

The effort is one of five statewide to receive $1 million from the state on Monday to help more young people earn associate degrees and industry certifications in science, technology, engineering and math. STEM Tech Career Academies will launch as six-year programs that allow high school students to earn both a high school diploma and a postsecondary degree from a community college without the student having to pay anything.

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“This new initiative will build on the success of our administration’s Early College and Innovation Pathway programs to create more targeted connections between high schools, community colleges and employers,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “STEM Tech Career Academies will enable more students to earn degrees and certifications and provide STEM skills and knowledge to more young people.”

STEM Tech Career Academies combine and expand elements of early college and early career innovation pathways programs that started several years ago, including tech curriculum, work-based learning experiences, post-secondary courses, and collegiate and career coaching.

The state plan is modeled after P-Tech, a grades 9-14 school model where students earn a high school diploma and an industry-recognized associate degree and gain relevant work experience in a growing field. Students who complete a P-Tech program typically receive employment preferences from participating employers.

State officials said the new initiative also aims to close equity and opportunity gaps in the STEM industry. Women and minority groups remain underrepresented in STEM subjects in Massachusetts and across the country. Outside of healthcare, STEM jobs like computer science, math and engineering employ about three men for every woman, and 2020 data estimates that only 27% of STEM workers are non-white. In Massachusetts, only 5% of the STEM workforce is black and only 6% is Hispanic.

“As we continue to address inequalities in our workforce, STEM Tech Career Academy is an excellent initiative that provides opportunities and access to high-demand sectors for traditionally underserved individuals,” said Rosalin Acosta, Secretary of Labor and Human Resources.

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