Milford Central School District will receive $83,000 in federal funding to increase access to science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs, as announced by U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado, D-Rhinebeck, on Aug. 8.

The funding comes from the Appalachian Regional Commission's Career Opportunities in Rural Education-Transformative Workforce program, according to a release from the office of Delgado.The resources for this program, combined with local funds, will allow Milford Central Schools to implement a new micro-credentialing platform.

“I am proud to announce federal funding to help Milford Central Schools in Delaware and Otsego Counties implement new elements of and expand a program that allows their students to work closely with local businesses that identify STEM-based needs and ensure students and businesses have the skills to compete in a modern workforce,” Delgado said in the release. “I’m glad to support this critical program for rural communities and look forward to seeing how students with these credentials will help our small businesses and local communities thrive.”

It will also allow teachers to continue expanding their training in STEM education through programs like Project Lead The Way, a nonprofit that offers teacher training. The micro-credentialing program will also be used by other school districts in the area which are part of Career Opportunities in Rural Education, including Laurens, Cherry Valley and Unadilla Valley, said Milford Central School District Superintendent Mark Place. The Career Opportunities in Rural Education program is in its 8th year at Milford Central Schools.

"It allows us to provide opportunities for our students that wouldn't ordinarily be accessible," Place said. "We wouldn't be able to sustain our CORE program if we didn't get grant funding. It's critically important for rural schools that we're able to provide the same sorts of opportunities that suburban and urban districts are able to provide to their students, and this provides us the opportunities to do that."

The micro-credentialing platform is essentially a way for local businesses to collaborate with schools to identify skills necessary for initial employment with that business, and then give students the opportunity to get those credentials, Place said. These credentials can be very specific, like learning to make very precise measurements at the Corning Museum of Glass, he said. The skills can also be transferable between different occupations, such as communication and timeliness. The micro-credentialing platform is for any students that are interested in obtaining early career skills, regardless of if they plan to go to college or not.

"It's a matter of identifying the skills students need and if they decide its a career path they want to take, they're on their way to attaining that," Place said. "We're trying to change the conversation about college and career readiness."

Shweta Karikehalli, staff writer, can be reached at skarikehalli@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7221. Follow her @DS_ShwetaK on Twitter.

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