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Gov. Nixon Grants $9 Million to Establish Innovation Campuses Around Missouri

Governor Jay Nixon announced today the state will grant nearly $9 million dollars to establish Innovation Campuses through different colleges around the state, including Missouri State University. Innovation Campuses provide a medium for high school students who wish to pursue careers in high-demand fields, like health care, by partnering the universities with private businesses and public school systems in the area. This program will be used to train students for career opportunities before they graduate high school. KSMU’s Rebekah Clark has more.

Governor Nixon made his announcement during a visit to MSU, which will receive $1 million dollars in grant money. According to Nixon, high school students in Springfield can enroll this fall through Ozarks Technical Community College’s Middle College program. OTC, along with Greene County, MSU, Springfield Public Schools, CoxHealth and Mercy Health Systems will head up the program.

“The idea of the Innovation Campus is simple. Missouri’s public colleges and universities will work with local non-profit and governmental groups, business partners, school districts and other organizations to prepare students for careers in high demand fields while cutting the time it takes to earn a degree and reducing student debt.”

Nixon says that students who choose to do this will begin in an ‘early start’ program as high school juniors and seniors. He says this program will give students the ability to earn a bachelor’s degree within three to five years after high school graduation. Once they’ve earned that degree, Nixon says, they will be eligible for priority hiring at CoxHealth and Mercy in Springfield.

“Missouri State University will provide $1000 in annual scholarships to each trainee. OTC will wave tuition for general education classes taken during junior and senior year of high school. Springfield Public Schools are adding a full-time teacher for these trainees, and Mercy and Cox are committing $160,000 in paid internships for these students to get the training they need.”

Nixon says in the past, some of the yearly block grant investments made by the state weren’t quote – “multiplicative” – in nature. He says the state will watch this investment carefully to make sure these programs are something to keep investing in after a year. He says because state funding is so tight, they didn’t have the resources or the time to do a three-year study on the effects of the program.

Other universities around the state receiving grants include Lincoln University, University of Missouri-St. Louis, Missouri Western State University, University of Central Missouri, Southeast Missouri State University and Missouri University of Science and Technology.

For KSMU News, I’m Rebekah Clark.