College & Career Readiness
The Department of Innovative Programs focuses on College and Career Readiness, creating programs that offer college and career pathways to set students up for success beyond high school. If you or your student are interested in learning more about the options available, reach out to your student's school counselor, or email us at InnovativePrograms@dps61.org!
Programs & Partnerships
- The Prep Academy: Partnership with Richland Community College — DPS students enrolled in the program earn their Associate's Degree for FREE in the same four years they're earning their high school diploma. Click here to learn more about The Prep Academy.
- Co-Op Opportunities: PAID opportunities for students to build skills in preparation for long-term careers. DPS currently offers paid co-ops through ADM, Caterpillar, Land of Lincoln Credit Union, Memorial Hospital, St. Mary's Hospital, and DPS IT and Maintenance departments.
- InspirEd Futures Internships: Now in its 9th year of connecting students with real-life, hands-on experiences. DPS is currently partnered with 20+ local businesses to offer internship opportunities. Click here to learn more about InspirEd Futures Internships.
- Future Teacher Club: Students interested in becoming teachers can explore the education field, meets weekly at each high school.
- Workforce Prep: 360-hour training program in partnership with Richland Community College — students learn basic manufacturing, job readiness and essential skills, and graduate with nationally- recognized certificates.
- Skilled Trades: Pre-apprenticeship program that successfully prepares students to transition to labor registered apprenticeships in the trades post-graduation.
College & Career Pathway Courses
- Workforce Prep Course: Partnership with Richland Community College's EnRich Program that prepares students to go straight to the workforce by learning essential skills
- Building Construction Trades Course: Partnership with North America's Building Trades Unions — DPS junior and senior students experience a comprehensive pre-apprenticeship readiness program with a goal of allowing students to gain access to Building Trades’ registered programs. The main objective is to prepare students with the necessary skills, nationally-recognized certifications, and college credits upon successful completion of an apprenticeship that the students can take anywhere in the country. Upon successful completion of the courses, students begin their pathway to career opportunities that provide both good pay and benefits offered by the building and construction trades’ contractor partners.
- Pre-Apprenticeship Program: Partnership with Workforce Investment Solutions, offering DPS students the opportunity to earn apprenticeships right after high school. A pre-apprenticeship program can successfully prepare seniors to transition to a Department of Labor registered apprenticeship in the trades.
- Teacher Prep Course: A CTE grant partnership with Richland Community College that provides classroom coursework from EdRising, plus education field exploration
- Dual Enrollment: Partnership with Richland Community College that allows DPS to offer dual credit classes at the high schools, giving students access to college credit
Career & Life Skills Exposure Opportunities
- Healthcare Day: Yearly career exposure event hosted by Richland Community College at healthcare agencies in Macon County
- Manufacturing Day: Yearly event held during Manufacturing Week to expose students to careers in manufacturing
- Building Trades Day: Yearly event held in Springfield in November showcasing union laborers and hands-on demos
- College & Career Week: First held in April 2022 at all DPS schools, week-long celebration of college and career readiness with daily themes, activities, and events
- Job Expos: Held at each high school to connect students with part-time, summer, and full-time opportunities
- Financial Literacy: Partnerships with local financial institutions to prepare students for money management post high school
- Career Signing Day: Yearly event to celebrate students for completion of co-op and pre-apprenticeship programs, many of whom are offered full-time positions post-graduation