Bizzarro, Harkins, Merski: $120,000 grant to promote school-business partnerships, real-world learning for students

ERIE, Jan. 16 – A state grant of $120,000 will bolster career readiness for Erie students and improve the pool of talented job candidates for area businesses, state Reps. Ryan Bizzarro, Pat Harkins and Bob Merski, all D-Erie, announced today.

The grant from the state Department of Labor and Industry will fund the Northwest Workforce Development Board’s “Student in the Workforce” project – designed to bring students from Erie and several other counties into the workplace for real-world experiences with high-demand jobs.

“The funding announced today allows us to build incredibly valuable connections between our schools and area businesses,” Bizzarro said. “Giving students a chance to interact with area employers in real-world settings can provide once-in-a-lifetime opportunities and open new doors to career pathways. It prepares students to hit the ground running when they venture out into the working world.”

Harkins agreed, noting, “A connection between the classroom and the workplace is invaluable – particularly for students from lower-income households, who might not otherwise have an opportunity to develop these connections. It’s a way to level the playing field and ensure that all students have a meaningful chance to compete for high-demand, good-paying jobs.”

Experiential learning is the most effective tool for educating our young people,” Merski added. “When students go out into the workplace, they’re developing insights and skills that are impossible to acquire in the classroom. These partnerships are also important because they allow schools to work hand-in-hand with area employers to eliminate a potential skills gap.”

The grant is part of a $2.4 million package of Business-Education Partnership grants to 19 workforce development boards throughout the state. The grants are 100% funded through federal money made available from the Innovation and Opportunities Act.

More information about the grants is available through the Department of Labor and Industry’s website at