Aquarium receives $650,000 grant for marine workforce development among youth
Mystic ―Mystic Aquarium announced Thursday that it had received $650,000 in federal funding for a marine conservation and sustainability economic workforce development initiative aimed at students in underserved communities.
The Blue Economy Workforce Development Initiative is a partnership between the aquarium and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, with support from the Eastern Connecticut Chamber of Commerce’s Innovation Center and 10 youth organizations.
The initiative will introduce career opportunities to elementary and secondary school aged students in Connecticut’s urban areas, like New London.
“By introducing K-12 youth and educators to exciting blue economy content and connecting them with career professionals and role models that are diverse and relatable, young people will be more likely to pursue related coursework, understand career pathways, and see those careers as both desirable and attainable.” said Katie Cubina, the aquarium’s senior vice president for mission programs.
“While most Blue Economy workforce development initiatives are aimed at higher education, that is often too late for many low-income, and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of color) youth, who may already be turned off, or turned away, from these careers. Mystic Aquarium is addressing this problem as a priority,” the aquarium said.
The initiative will address the region’s need for skilled workers in the blue economy such as the local offshore wind energy industry, through mentoring, hands on learning, and environmental education by providing students with the skills, interest and knowledge to prepare them for careers in the industry.
Through the aquarium’s partnerships with youth organizations, the program will also reach youth in 28 states and Puerto Rico.