Startup Education Non-Profit Helps Students Plan Dream Careers

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In response to cuts to career education programs, startup non-profit Workaday Media is introducing new career education videos and activities for use in high school subject classes. Their first classroom unit, to be piloted in California classrooms, features mechanical engineers from NASA Ames, Santa Cruz Bicycles and more.

Students at Soquel High School video chat with engineer Nick Anderson of Santa Cruz Bicycles.

Workaday Media connects classrooms to workplaces. Nick Anderson answers questions about the career of mechanical engineering.

Workaday Media liberates career education from the confines of the career center and gets it into the heart of high school curriculum. We’re now ready to scale up and start serving a larger audience.

The economic downturn has hit young people hard. Jobs are scarce and the cost of higher education is rising. Ensuring that graduates are ‘college and career ready’ is now a top priority for high schools across the country. Two young entrepreneurs have launched a non-profit that helps high schools accomplish this important mission.

Workaday Media, founded in 2011, creates free web-based career education videos and activities. Classroom units are built around ‘day-in-the-life’ documentary videos that feature inspirational working people. The videos are supported by classroom activities that connect academic subjects to challenges faced in real work places.

On October 30th, Workaday Media visited teacher Bri Wiles’ classroom at Soquel High School in Northern California. Students watched a video that documented the mechanical engineering team at Santa Cruz Bicycles as they solved a difficult design challenge on a new downhill racing bike frame. The students then interviewed the stars of the video over Skype. “It really helps you get an idea of what you want to do for work. I liked that I could see how fun engineering was and what they did to get where they are now,” said one sophomore.

Watch the Santa Cruz Bicycles segment and learn more at

Teachers across the United States can use Workaday Media’s web-based career education videos and activities in their classrooms. The content is free and is designed for integration into standard subject classes like Physics and Algebra. Workaday Media ambassadors are presently testing the organization’s pilot Mechanical Engineering Unit in Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz area classrooms.

Workaday Media’s founder and project director, Cassidy Clawson, was inspired to start the project while working at his family’s small technology business. “I was fortunate to have had the chance to start working at a young age,” said Mr. Clawson. “I was exposed to great career paths and surrounded by inspiring people that were passionate about their work. It helped me stay focused on school and kept me excited about my future. We hope Workaday Media can bring that experience to classrooms across the United States.”

When the family business went bankrupt during the recession, Cassidy took a leap of faith and started Workaday Media with his best friend and colleague, Thea Colton. “The concept is revolutionary,” said Ms. Colton. “Workaday Media liberates career education from the confines of the career center and gets it into the heart of high school curriculum. We’re now ready to scale up and start serving a larger audience.”

Workaday Media is now formalizing programs with administrators and teachers. Principal Ken Lawrence-Emanuel of Soquel High School looks forward to utilizing more Workaday Media content. “I have confidence in Workaday Media’s ability to reach young people and affect positive change in scholastic and occupational outcomes,” said Mr. Lawrence-Emanuel. “Their integrative approach is congruent with our career education philosophy and I’m optimistic that their materials will help our students make informed choices about their futures. Student and teacher feedback has been extremely positive.”

The team is presently raising money to complete and deploy its pilot Mechanical Engineering Unit in 100 test classrooms across California. They plan to begin filming a second unit featuring science and healthcare careers for biology classes in 2013. Workaday Media is a project of Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs (SEE), a non-profit public charity exempt from federal income tax under Section 501c3 of the Internal Revenue Code.

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Thea Colton

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