The One8 Foundation believes that education is the doorway to equal opportunity and self-sufficiency, and that education in the 21st Century requires a higher bar for what students need to know in order to secure careers with adequate incomes and meaningful advancement opportunities. Currently, the U.S. is 31st among the 35 OECD industrialized nations in math competency and 20th in reading suggesting we must do more to prepare our children for the jobs of the future in a globalized economy. Moreover, our country’s aspiration should be to make an outstanding education attainable to all, regardless of zip code. This is the social justice issue of our time, and the health and sustainability of our democracy depend on an educated citizenry that has the problem solving, critical thinking and STEM skills necessary to succeed in the new economy.

Within the foundation’s K-12 grantmaking portfolio we place a particular emphasis on opportunities to engage students in applied learning, designed to build content knowledge within the context of real-world problems and professions. In line with this focus, in 2016 we made a significant, multi-year investment in expanding the number of Project Lead The Way programs within the state and launched the Mass STEM Hub, a program within the foundation, to help schools scale high quality Project Lead The Way programs. We continue to search for opportunities to expand access to school models and course offerings where students learn content knowledge in an applied context.

One applied learning school model with demonstrated evidence of success is the career academy. In Massachusetts, where vocational-technical programs are often separated from comprehensive high schools, there has been a limited exploration of the career academy model, which has been implemented at scale and with impressive results in other states. The foundation’s goal in launching this study tour opportunity is to create a point of exposure so that school teams can learn more about the model and think about opportunities to incorporate elements of it into their work in Massachusetts.


In 2007, Nashville embarked on an ambitious path to transform the district’s zoned high schools. What has followed has been 10 years of concerted effort to fully convert all 12 high schools to “wall-to-wall” career academies, meaning all students are involved in a coherent, career-aligned course sequence, meaningful interdisciplinary, project-based learning, and opportunities for relevant work-based learning. The results have been impressive and include a double digit rise in graduations rates, math proficiency rates, and English proficiency rates. Additionally, the work has led to deep partnerships with local businesses, which are, as described by President Obama, “doing their part by giving students opportunities to connect the lessons [in classrooms] with jobs that are actually out there to be filled.”

The study tour, taking place on October 19-20, will give those attending the opportunity to visit two high schools that demonstrate the change the Nashville schools underwent and today operate as high-quality career academies. In a program led by Alignment Nashville, a collective impact organization that supported the transformation, as well as the former Chief Academic Officer of Metro Nashville Public Schools who led the work across high schools, the tour will focus on diving into the models at two school sites.  These high school sites include:

  • McGavock High School: Serving over 2,300 students, McGavock is split into four career academies including Hospitality and Finance, Aviation and Transportation, Life Science and Law, and Digital Design and Communication. The academies operate with a diverse set of partners including the Metro Nashville Airport Authority, Cummins, Deloitte, and the Aegis Sciences Corporation. The school serves a highly diverse population in one of the more suburban areas of Nashville.
  • Stratford STEM Magnet School: Serving over 700 students, Stratford is located in East Nashville and divided into two academies, one for Science and Engineering and one for National Safety and Security Technologies. The school has partnerships with employers including Nissan, Universal Robotics, and Wright Industries among others. In addition, the school has launched an innovative joint teaching effort with Vanderbilt University to give students exposure to real-world science labs. The school serves a predominantly black and Hispanic student population with over 80% of students eligible for free and reduced price lunch.

Both sites should provide an opportunity to understand how schools operating with different contexts and different themes have engaged with the career academy model. The study tour will also include time to discuss observations with other tour participants as well as the tour leaders, who were instrumental in overseeing the transformation of Metro Nashville Public Schools.


Interested schools must submit an application form by September 1, 2017. A link to the application can be found here. The application form is designed to collect basic information on who will be included on the school/district team, what the school/district team hopes to learn, and how the team foresees applying information gathered during the study tour.


  • Only Massachusetts-based teams with high school representatives will be considered
  • Teams must have in place an existing Project Lead The Way program or plans to launch a program in the 2017-18 school year
  • Teams should comprise 3-5 representatives with preference given to those teams that include a teacher leader, member of the high school leadership team, and member of the district leadership team
  • Schools and districts may include a team member external to the district such as a potential industry partner if relevant
  • Preference will be given to those teams that already have in place an academy model, are pursuing conversion to an academy model, or plan to apply for the state’s new Innovation Pathway designation

Schools will be notified by September 6 if they have been selected for this opportunity.


Included in this opportunity, the One8 Foundation will work with Alignment Nashville to provide hotel rooms, transportation between study tour sites, and meals during the study tour at no cost to school teams. In addition, the foundation will provide a $250 per individual flight stipend to each school. Flight stipends will be distributed after completion of the tour based on the number of individuals who attended from each school/district.

All individuals attending the study tour are expected to arrive in Nashville for an initial briefing session and dinner at 6pm CT on October 19th. The tour will run through 4pm CT on October 20th. All logistics while in Nashville will be organized by the One8 Foundation, but individuals are expected to make their own flight arrangements.


In order for schools to receive stipend funds, for distribution to individuals, individuals will be required to:

  • Attend all scheduled activities associated with the study tour
  • Complete the background pre-work and reading prior to the tour
  • Submit the feedback survey following the tour
  • Complete a follow-up conversation with the One8 Foundation to debrief and to convey relevant implementation plans or support needs

Schools that attend the study tour and develop plans to implement features of the career academy model will be eligible for additional planning and implementation support. Additional support would be contingent on developing a bold vision that incorporates key features of the career academy model.

Study tour seats are limited and as a result, we may not be able to fully accommodate demand. For any questions about the application or study tour program, please contact

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