Just coming back from an invigorating two-day conference with 23 fellow YCC grantees in Washington DC, convening one year after the start of the 4.5 year grant program. YCC seeks to identify and potentially scale promising secondary/post-secondary programs that combine rigorous academics, skills training and work experiences that are effective in connecting youth to in-demand STEM/Manufacturing college and career pathways. Labor Secretary Perez welcomed us with inspirational remarks, referring to YCC grantees as being on the “forefront of innovation to help redesign the high school and community college experience…building the middle class in this country.” I had the privilege of being asked to participate to share some best practices on the Employer Engagement panel. I shared MR’s experience as an intermediary organization working in Austin on Chicago’s West side with Chicago Public Schools and the over 80 manufacturers we’ve worked with on behalf of Austin Polytech students to have over 200 paid work experiences over the last few years. I’m coming home with a lot of useful information and ideas to help fine-tune our program going into the upcoming school year based on the great work being done by fellow grantees. We are working to build more of an online presence this year, we have great pictures and stories to tell of our students and alumni. Please find Manufacturing Connect on Facebook and me @EricaSwinney on twitter and LinkedIn!