Innovation Grant Funding
Launch Your Future Today (LYFT) Career Pathways is a rural career and technical education pathway initiative in the 18-county service region of southwest and west central Minnesota, launched in 2018 with a legislative grant secured by the Southwest West Central (SWWC) Service Cooperative and its partners. Since then, LYFT Pathways continues to be supported through a state-wide Rural Career and Technical Education (CTE) Consortium Grant, passed by the Minnesota Legislature.
More than 80 projects have been funded between 2018-2023. Nearly 19,000 students in southwest and west central Minnesota were impacted by these projects, and over half of the projects resulted in new CTE courses. To read more about those projects, click here.
- Applications must be submitted by October 31, 2023.
- Selection and notification of successful applicants will be no later than December 15, 2023.
- All funds must be spent before June 30, 2024.
- Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or want to discuss your project idea.
CTE Projects must: 1) support and engage students to gain greater exposure to careers and/or build work skills through innovative hands-on learning, 2) include the collaboration of at least one school and one or more businesses or industry-related partners, and 3) relate to local/regional career opportunities.
Funding requests must be for new project ideas (not meant to support previously funded projects) that enhance or develop new courses, programs and/or experiences. Previous LYFT Pathways funds awarded to the applicant, as well as outcomes from previously funded projects will be considered in the review process. This grant opportunity estimates that $100,000 is available to fund 6-7 projects. The maximum amount of funding that can be requested is $15,000. We reserve the right to offer grant amounts that differ from the applicant’s request, or the maximum identified above.
Industry-related partners: Business/Industry engagement is required however can be facilitated through partners such as: business/labor organizations or associations, chambers of commerce, economic development, workforce development, higher education, nonprofit/community-based organizations, community action agencies.
Innovative: Connecting and expanding existing career and technical education, developing new programming, customizing, or bringing to scale collaborative work to meet your unique student and local labor market needs now and into the future that promote career awareness and advance student learning.
Collaboration: Intentional and facilitated discussions between education and industry focused on cooperative efforts between the two, collecting input on innovative practices that further and sustain students’ career awareness and advance student learning with a focus on reducing barriers to students’ affordable access to quality, and student-centered educational experiences.
Innovative Project Design
Total points: 15
Project information including key activities, goals, and outcomes are thoroughly articulated. The project results in a new CTE proposed project.
There is an indication that students will be provided with real-world experiences through cooperative efforts between education and industry.
Total points: 30
Partnerships are thoroughly articulated and demonstrate active collaborative engagement and support of project by all partners.
The proposed collaborative partnership between education and industry will advance student learning.
Roles, responsibilities, and commitments of each partner is described.
Business Driven and Supported
Total points: 20
The role of the business partner is clearly described.
CTE project focus supports local/regional economy and employers.
Total points: 15/20*
Students will be directly served.
There is evidence that there is student interest in the proposed project.
There is indication of how the project will lead to student success.
Will students receive college credit and/or credential?. * (5 points)
Student recruitment is clear.
Student engagement is clear.
Evaluation & Outcomes
Total points: 10
Outcomes are listed and relevant to the proposed project.
There is a plan for evaluation of the proposed project.
Sustainability & Budget
Total points: 15
The amount of LYFT funds requested is reasonable for this project.
There are matching funds supporting this project.
There is a plan for sustaining the project after the initial year of funding.
Total Points 105
Frequently Asked Questions
Who is eligible to apply for LYFT Pathway funds?
- To be eligible for funding, schools must be a member of SWWC. All rural Service Cooperatives have Rural CTE Consortium funding, so if you are not an SWWC member please check with your region’s Service Cooperative. Priority will be given to member schools of SWWC, following the Mid-Minnesota & Minnesota West Perkins Consortium, next Region 6 & 8.
My school district would like to expand its CTE offerings. Do we need to partner with another high school to be funded?
- No. LYFT Pathway funds require the collaboration of at least one school and one or more businesses or industry partner.
What does “collaboration of at least one school and one or more businesses or industry-related partner” mean exactly?
- We define collaboration as intentional and facilitated discussions between education and industry focused on cooperative efforts between the two, collecting input on innovative practices that further and sustain students career awareness and advance student learning with a focus on reducing barriers to students’ affordable access to quality, and student-centered educational experiences.
Is the applying partnership required to provide matching funds for the project?
- Match is required, but there is no set amount or percentage. Matching funds demonstrate the partners' support and are an indication that there is greater potential for sustaining the project. If you need help identifying matching funds, please contact program staff.
Can you submit more than one LYFT Pathways Innovation Grant application?
- Yes, if it is to fund the enhancement of or development of new and separate course, program, or experience.
Can LYFT funds be used for planning or just implementation?
Planning can be part of an application for funds, but the outcome needs to be that high school students will be served as a result of the project being implemented.
Does funding have to be used for CTE courses and programs or could it be used for other collaborative classes between high schools?
Funding can only be used to develop or enhance CTE courses, programs, or experiences.
How much funding can a partnership apply for?
The maximum amount of funding that can be requested is $15,000. This grant opportunity estimates that $100,000 is available to fund six to seven proposals. We reserve the right to offer grant amounts that differ from the applicant’s request, or the maximum identified above.
Can LYFT funds be used for student transportation?
Funds can be used to transport students for face-to-face classes with other schools, but reimbursement is limited to 50% of the costs. LYFT Pathways will not reimburse students directly for transportation. Reimbursement can only be made to schools or their transportation provider.
What are considered CTE courses and Programs?
- Career Technical Education (CTE) courses, programs, and experiences are opportunities that are ACCESSIBLE, EQUITABLE, AND INCLUSIVE – Student-centered opportunities that are accessible to ALL students and value our diverse human experience; ALIGNED AND INTEGRATED – Education and work-based experiences that are relevant, aligned and integrated with industry needs through advanced business/community engagement and higher education partnerships; INNOVATIVE AND CAREER-CONNECTED– Innovative, career-connected learning that exposes students to local/regional career opportunities through hands-on, work-based and out-of-school learning in partnership with businesses; ENGAGING AND RELEVANT– Sequenced courses that are taught by instructors who are highly trained, supported, and deeply engaged in providing relevant instruction; SUSTAINABLE AND NEED-BASED – Efforts address barriers for all stakeholders and are sustained through leveraged resources and community partnerships.
It is mentioned in the LYFT materials and application that funds can be used to “provide new opportunities for businesses and schools to collaborate on hands-on CTE exploration, exposure, and experiences ... ”. What would be examples of hands-on CTE opportunities?
The goal of LYFT funds is for every student in the region in grades 7-12 to gain marketable skills leading to further education and careers that match our region’s labor market needs. Funds might also be used to develop other new collaborative CTE opportunities that are not in the form of a course. Some examples might include job shadowing, internships, apprenticeships, co-teaching, career mentoring and more. Whatever the shared opportunity that is developed, it would be important that there is an ongoing partnership between the partners to sustain it after the initial funding.
Do the CTE courses or programs that are developed need to provide students with college credit?
- Offering classes for college credit is not a requirement, but it is encouraged; therefore, proposals that provide students with college credit will receive bonus points.
Are there staff available that can help partnerships develop their plan?
- LYFT staff can answer questions and provide technical assistance to partnerships to help them make decisions, but it is up to the partnership to complete the application form.
How will we know if our application has been approved?
- LYFT staff will contact the lead project contact person and project partners, as listed on the application, to let them know if their plan has been approved or if more details are needed.
How do schools/organizations process payments for LYFT Pathways expenditures?
- School Finance Codes: The grant does not specify that certain codes must be used, so that will be up to the fiscal host of the local LYFT partnership. The SWWC (as fiscal host) uses Finance Code - 000 and Program Code - 399.
There are two ways for schools/organizations to request their awarded LYFT Pathways funds.
- Schools/organizations can submit ORIGINAL invoices to LYFT@swwc.org or Attention Eriann Faris - SWWC, 1420 East College Drive, Marshall, MN 56258, and we will pay the vendor directly. Schools/organizations should place orders using their purchase order process. Be sure to indicate the school’s tax-exempt status when ordering.
- To be reimbursed for any LYFT Pathway bills already paid: Invoice the SWWC at LYFT@swwc.org or Attention Eriann Faris - SWWC, 1420 East College Drive, Marshall, MN 56258.
- Include a copy of the original invoice that was paid.
- Provide proof that the invoice has been paid (i.e., payment register showing the check number, vendor name, and dollar amount, OR a copy of the cancelled check. School districts can send a copy of the posted activity audit report).
- Upon receiving the appropriate documentation, a check will be mailed to the school/organization making the request.