Statewide Education Initiative Launched with $25 Million Donation from Hess
Hess is donating more than $25 million to fund “Succeed 2020,” a statewide education initiative designed to help North Dakota students become better prepared for college and careers. Succeed 2020 is a bold and ambitious effort that seeks to improve school-to-career transition by improving access to high quality academic course work, career and technical training and academic and career counseling. Professional development for teachers and counselors and capacity building for the Regional Education Associations (REAs) are also critical components.
Hess has been engaged in North Dakota for more than 50 years. “This investment in building North Dakota’s workforce of the future is part of our commitment to make a positive impact on the communities where we do business,” said Hess Chairman and CEO John Hess. “We hope this program will ensure that each student in North Dakota has the opportunity to build a rewarding career, which will help further strengthen the state economy for many years to come.” The program represents a “tremendous opportunity to improve the quality of education,” said North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple. The economy and population are booming in North Dakota from increased production of shale oil and gas. While the oil and gas industry’s growth is increasing many opportunities, it is also creating challenges – in schools, for example, where enrollments have risen dramatically and quickly.
Dalrymple described the importance of the partnership with Hess when he announced the program in April 2012. “The past three legislative sessions have focused heavily on creating equitable funding for schools,” he said. “This public-private partnership will allow our local partners to enhance and design programs that better prepare our students.” Succeed 2020 made its first four grants last April, when it awarded as much as $500,000 to each of four REAs to implement the first year of Succeed 2020 educational programming. The recipients were the Missouri River Educational Cooperative (MREC) in Bismarck, the Northeast Education Services Cooperative in Devils Lake, the Roughrider Education Services Program in Dickinson and the South East Education Cooperative in Fargo. Additional planning funds and technical assistance support are also being provided to the remaining four REAs in North Dakota. The Succeed 2020 project aims to increase ACT scores, decrease developmental or remedial education, and increase the number of students who complete high school and college programs on time. The REAs will work with their local school districts and partners to design and implement programs that improve college and career counseling beginning in the middle school grades, increase access to and success in career and technical education programs and advanced placement courses for rural students, and provide professional development for teachers and counselors.