PrepareRI Summit Brings Together 250 Rhode Islanders to Support Career Education
Commissioner of Education Ken Wagner addresses educators, students,
businesses and community leaders at the first-ever PrepareRI Summit.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – More than 250 educators, industry partners, students,
and community leaders came together today for the first-ever PrepareRI
Summit, a daylong strategy session on career education in Rhode Island.
Hosted by the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE), the Summit
featured opening remarks from Commissioner of Education Ken Wagner and, by
video, Governor Gina Raimondo, who has made job training and career
education a top priority in her administration.
“Rhode Island’s economy has changed, and education needs to change with
it,” said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. “We need to give our students
challenging, work-based learning opportunities that ignite their passions
and prepare them with the skills they need to be successful after
graduation. That’s what PrepareRI is all about, and I’m thrilled to see
this initiative grow with the support of stakeholders at every level.”
PrepareRI is one of the most ambitious plans in the nation to improve youth
career readiness. It launched in January 2017 after Rhode Island became one
of only 10 states in the nation to win a $2 million competitive grant under
New Skills for Youth, an initiative developed by JPMorgan Chase, in
collaboration with the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and
“Graduation isn’t a finish line; it’s just the beginning, and education is
the means through which we can make sure that all students have the skills
they need to be successful in the journey ahead,” said Wagner. “Today’s
summit was a great opportunity to get diverse perspectives in one room to
figure out how we can implement and expand career education so that every
student has access to meaningful, relevant career exploration
Leading Rhode Island businesses brought industry perspective to the Summit,
outlining the skills and experience young people need to compete for the
jobs of tomorrow. The Rhode Island Foundation, IBM, and CVS Health
participated in a cross-sector panel to kickoff the event, and afternoon
breakout sessions likewise focused on the need for alignment between
educational programs and workforce demands.
Congressman Jim Langevin, who co-chairs the Congressional Career and
Technical Education (CTE) Caucus, and Brenda Dann-Messier, Rhode Island’s
Commissioner of Postsecondary Education, delivered the afternoon keynote
“Career and technical education puts our students on a path to high-growth,
high-wage careers,” said Langevin. “I’m proud to help lead this work at the
federal level with the Congressional CTE Caucus, and I’m excited to see
Rhode Island making career education a priority. When we invest in CTE and
build strong partnerships between industry and education, it’s a win-win
for our students and for our economy.”
In addition to the many elementary and secondary educators, principals, and
superintendents in attendance at the Summit, Postsecondary Commissioner
Dann-Messier represented higher education with colleagues from the
Community College of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College.
“By working together across an aligned system of education, from
kindergarten through college, we can ensure that every Rhode Island
graduate has the experience, skills, and confidence they need to excel in
the classroom and be successful in the workplace,” said Dann-Messier.
“Through PrepareRI, we’re making the important connection between our work
in education and the demands of our growing economy, and the enthusiasm
behind the summit today shows me that we are on the right track.”
PrepareRI is run by an inter-agency task force that includes the Rhode
Island Governor’s Office, RIDE, the Governor’s Workforce Board, the Office
of the Postsecondary Commission, and the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation.
This task force, with the support of partners in education, business, and
the community, plans to convene a second PrepareRI Summit in the spring.
For more information, visit the PrepareRI website.