Fifteen years ago, the Blue Valley Schools in Kansas wanted to connect young people to meaningful work. They created the Blue Valley Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) in 2009, which offers career-based learning opportunities to students from five high schools in the Kansas City area. CAPS allows students to tackle real-world challenges, use industry-standard tools, and learn from mentors while earning high school and college credits. One of the benefits of participating in CAPS is that students build networks and connections with professionals, employers, and mentors in various industries. This helps them explore potential career paths and receive support and guidance. The success of CAPS led to the creation of similar programs across the country.
The CAPS Network community values profession-based learning, responsiveness, self-discovery and exploration, professional skills development, and an entrepreneurial mindset. In 2021, the CAPS Network became an independent nonprofit organization supporting profession-based learning. It has over 100 affiliate locations and is recognized as a global innovation.
A survey of more than 1,000 CAPS network graduates revealed that the program has had a significant influence on their professional growth. Over three-fourths of respondents reported a positive experience, and many said that CAPS helped them find jobs or enter college. CAPS alumni learned essential skills, built confidence, and were encouraged to explore different careers before committing to college. Many of them received scholarships and honors/awards. The survey shows that CAPS has helped students find their professional paths, build connections, and increase their social capital.
Overall, CAPS has been successful in connecting young people to meaningful work and preparing them for future success.
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