May 12 2021

South High CCC Coordinator Works to Eliminate Barriers for Students Interested in the Trades

Katie Hanson

Our Career & College Center (CCC) coordinators at 15 Minneapolis and Saint Paul high schools are experts at identifying and working to resolve barriers for students who want to apply for college or enter career fields post-graduation.

Recently, South High School CCC coordinator Katie Hanson noticed a very specific problem faced by juniors and seniors at South who are interested in getting into the trades: many training programs require students to have a driver’s license. Unfortunately, many of Katie’s students cannot afford to get one.

“After all of the work that students have put into planning – from identifying their interests, to building a resume to networking with local professionals – to then discover that they can't even apply for these programs because they don't have a driver's license is super discouraging,” Katie says.

A driver’s education class and the required behind-the-wheel-hours bring the average cost of getting a license to about $400 per driver. For many students and their families, the cost is just too high to pay out of pocket.

To help address this barrier, Katie turned to the South High School Foundation for funds to support her students who are interested in the trades to get their licenses. The foundation, in partnership with a private donor, enthusiastically agreed, and is now funding ten students for the 2020-21 academic year.

After this support was secured, Katie worked with South High counselors, case managers and other staff to reach students who could benefit the most. Four students are now enrolled in driver’s education and five more will participate in March.

This is a trial year for the program, and Katie hopes that the support will continue. She already has plans to apply for funding again next year.

“This financial support is literally opening the doors to the trades for these students,” Katie said. “I hope we can continue to support more students in the future so they can achieve their career aspirations and build a solid plan for life after high school.”