Supporting high-quality Career Technical Education is at the center of focus for our priorities.

Our priorities are supporting high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE) policy at the federal and state levels; empowering our members to be effective CTE leaders through professional development and professional networking; sharing of best practices and technical assistance; and promoting high-quality CTE throughout the country. Our major initiatives incorporate these priorities and include the following:

Advance CTE's Advancing Postsecondary CTE Data Quality Initiative (PDI) is exploring how robust, state-level postsecondary data systems can assist postsecondary institutions in offering career pathways that meet learner interests and are aligned to a good career. 
The Alabama Community College System, Delaware Department of Education, University of the District of Columbia Community College, Florida Department of Education and Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission will form a cohort focused on improving the quality of data collected on postsecondary CTE programs and using data to improve CTE program offerings, strengthen outcomes equitably across learner groups and special populations, and align the interests of learners with industry and programmatic needs.
Throughout the multi-year initiative, the PDI grantees will conduct a comprehensive needs assessment with support from Advance CTE and develop a two-year action plan. The initiative will also identify strategies and recommendations other states can leverage to improve the quality and use of their postsecondary CTE data.
As part of this work, Advance CTE is offering each PDI grantee tiered supports to ensure they can achieve their stated goals and objectives.
These supports include:
  • Planning and implementation grants totaling $70,000
  • Ongoing virtual and in-person technical assistance
  • Access to a peer support network
  • Access to 50-state resources and deliverables
The Advancing Postsecondary CTE Data Quality Initiative is funded by ECMC Foundation.
For more information, please contact Austin Estes at

Advance CTE has received a five-year grant from JPMorgan Chase & Co. to support expansion of high-quality career pathways in select sites around the country, in partnership with Education Strategy Group. The New Skills ready network bolsters JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s efforts to support an inclusive economic recovery, as part of both their $350 million, five-year New Skills at Work initiative to prepare people for the future of work and their new $30 billion commitment to advance racial equity.

Advance CTE and Education Strategy Group are working with six U.S. sites to improve student completion of high-quality career pathways. The sites are formulating new partnerships between local school systems, higher education, employers, and state agencies. Advance CTE will provide research and resources that support sites to meet the objectives of the initiative and translate lessons from the sites into tools and resources that can be leveraged across the nation. The six U.S. sites are Boston, Massachusetts; Columbus, Ohio; Dallas, Texas; Denver, Colorado; Indianapolis, Indiana; and Nashville, Tennessee. Read more about the initiative here

Read more about the progress made by the sites in the year one annual report and snapshots here.

Despite significant advances in quality and access to CTE programs, perception remains a serious challenge for engaging more learners in CTE. Program enrollment remains stagnant in many states as states, leaders, and communities are struggling to overcome the stigma associated with CTE. Advance CTE with support from the Siemens Foundation, commissioned focus groups and a national survey to explore the attitudes of current and prospective CTE families and learners. This research identifies key messages and messengers CTE advocates should be employing to help position CTE as the best choice for each learner. The research also identified equity considerations for messaging tailoring to address the needs of historically marginalized populations. 

The findings were used to create supporting resources to help states develop recruitment strategies to increase participation in CTE. Since the initial release of the research in 2017, Advance CTE has provided direct technical assistance to over 10 states to develop robust communications and outreach strategies and developed a wide array of tools and resources to put the research into action that will continue with the release of updated findings in 2021. All materials are branded as part of the CTE: Learning that works for America® campaign, a national branding campaign designed to help state and local leaders communicate about CTE.

This work expanded in 2018 as Advance CTE developed a training to empower school counselors with the information they need to promote CTE. The one-day training is geared towards school counselors and related professionals, to help them better connect students with CTE programs of study. The in-person workshop was delivered to over 600 participants prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and a virtual format will be offered beginning Fall 2021. The workshop empowers counseling professionals to:

  • Identify and discuss the various components and benefits of a high-quality CTE program of study, including work-based learning, industry-recognized credentials and dual/concurrent credit;
  • Discuss the range of options available in CTE along with current workforce trends and know how to access information on CTE programs and the labor market in their specific state;
  • Explain the value of CTE to students and parents using tested key messages;
  • Assist students with career exploration and development in K-12 and identify potential strategies to implement in their community; and
  • Develop strategic actions to reach students, parents, administrators, other counselors and/or other stakeholders to communicate the value of CTE.

This workshop is facilitated by trainers who have strong backgrounds in both CTE and school counseling, all of whom have gone through a two-day intensive train the trainer to be prepared to deliver these workshops

Learn more about promoting CTE here.

The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) was reauthorized in July 2018, with all state plans submitted and approved in mid-2020. This reauthorized provided a once-in-a-decade opportunity for states to reflect on their CTE systems to ensure each learner can access and succeed in a high-quality CTE program of study. 

As one of the only organizations at the table with Congressional staff when the law was written, Advance CTE has insight into the opportunities and levers within the law to advance high-quality CTE and equity across the country. This insight is shared through the development of resources to help states unpack the new law, reflect on their current system and identify ways to maximize the law to best meet the needs of their states’ learners and industries. In addition to resources, Advance CTE offered cross-state learning through in-person Perkins implementation meetings and virtual discussion boards. Advance CTE facilitated an expert peer review process to provide states with actionable feedback on their draft plans and provided direct technical assistance to select group of states. Finally, Advance CTE led a number of Shared Solutions Workgroups comprised of state and national leaders to develop cross-state solutions and resources around some of the most important opportunities in Perkins V. This work is supported by funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Joyce Foundation.

In October 2020, Advance CTE released The State of Career Technical Education: An Analysis of States' Perkins V Priorities, which provides a cross-state analysis and recognition of the strategic decisions CTE leaders have made to advance high-quality CTE programs while increasing access and equity for each learner in their state, showcasing how many states have gone above and beyond the law’s requirements.  Advance CTE is excited to shift its focus on supporting the implementation of state plans across the country to support equitable outcomes for each learner.

Learn more about Perkins V here.

Youth apprenticeships – when designed with quality and equity in mind – allow learners to complete high school, start their postsecondary education at no cost, get paid work experience alongside a mentor, and start on a path that broadens their options for the future. However, the policy and practice of youth apprenticeship is still relatively nascent in the United States, necessitating supports and resources for the field. This is why New America launched the Partnership to Advance Youth Apprenticeships (PAYA) in partnership with Advance CTE, CareerWise Colorado, Charleston Regional Youth Apprenticeships, Education Strategy Group, JFF, the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity, the National Fund for Workforce Solutions and the National Governors Association.

Over four years, PAYA is supporting efforts in states and cities to expand access to high-quality youth apprenticeship opportunities for high school age youth. PAYA convenes experts and partners, supports a community of practitioners, publishes research, and provides grants and direct assistance to promising youth apprenticeship programs in cities and states across the U.S. PAYA is made possible due to support from Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Ballmer Group, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Joyce Foundation, JP Morgan Chase & Co., and the Siemens Foundation.

Access Advance CTE’s PAYA resources here: 

Learn more here.

Advance CTE has embarked on an initiative to advance equity in CTE to ensure that our systems support each learner in accessing, feeling welcome in, fully participating in and successfully completing a high-quality CTE program of study. Advance CTE’s Board of Director-approved statement on equity in CTE is the lens through which Advance CTE views and conducts all of its work. 

The initiative includes the Equity in CTE Committee, comprised of over 20 national organizations; an internal Equity in CTE Kitchen Cabinet, comprised of Advance CTE members from across 20 states and territories; and the Making Good on the Promise series, publications that identify the challenges to and strategies for closing equity gaps. 

The major themes of this initiative are: understanding the equity challenge, using data to examine and address equity gaps, building trust with marginalized communities, removing barriers and providing wraparound services.

In 2021, Advance CTE is building out tools to further address and close equity and opportunity gap, including a set of materials to support state-led opportunity gap workshops, a toolkit to help state leaders elevate and leverage the learner voice in CTE, and a discussion guide to help state leaders facilitate conversations about race and racism in CTE.

This work is supported by funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Joyce Foundation.

Learn more here.

In 2017, Advance CTE launched a leadership program to empower and support new State CTE Directors in developing and advancing comprehensive policies, infrastructure and programming that leads to, and sustains, high-quality and equitable Career Technical Education (CTE) for each learner in their states. Since 2015, more than 85 percent of states have experienced at least one CTE leadership change, underscoring the importance of this work and Advance CTE’s investment in formal leadership development. The New State Director Institute uses a cohort model to support first-year State CTE Directors by connecting them with mentors and other national leaders, to resources and by offering instructional workshops designed to assist them as they develop and implement their vision for CTE.

Advance CTE's annual Excellence in Action award recognizes and honors superior Career Technical Education (CTE) programs of study from across the nation. Selected programs of study exemplify excellence in:

  • The implementation of the new shared vision, CTE Without Limits;
  • The Career Clusters®;
  • Executing a true progression from secondary to postsecondary education for each learner;
  • Providing equitable and accessible work-based learning opportunities; and
  • Data-driven decision making that impacts student achievement and success for each learner, especially those from historically marginalized communities in CTE. 

Since 2014, Advance CTE has recognized 48 high-quality programs of study from 15 Career Clusters® across 23 states. They have been featured at national conferences, at the White House, in congressional briefings and in major media outlets.

Learn more here.