Obama pushes education grants

President Obama on Monday announced the winners of a new set of federal grants designed to encourage high schools to get their students more work and real-world experience in the hopes of better preparing them for college or employment.

“We want an education that engages you, an education that equips you with the rigorous and relevant skills for college and your career,” Obama told students at Bladensburg High School.

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The Maryland high school is in one of 24 school districts across the country that is receiving $107 million in grant money through the Youth CareerConnect program.

“Schools that have entered this competition have changed the way they prepare their students for the better,” Obama said. 

Schools will partner with nonprofit groups and community colleges, and the programs are designed to focus on areas — like science, math, and technology — where jobs are in demand.

In Maryland, schools are partnering with Lockheed Martin to create programs that allow students to achieve real-world experience in industries like aeronautics. 

“Young people today are working on cooler stuff than they were when I was in high school,” Obama joked.

At other schools, the grants will fund classes that allow students to earn college credit before they graduate.

“We’ve got to be doing everything we can to make sure every student in America has a chance to get that 'aha' moment,” Obama said.

Funding for the grants comes from the departments of Education and Labor.

The event came as the White House appeared eager to return to the president's economic agenda, following a March dominated by foreign policy crises and the ObamaCare enrollment deadline.

On Tuesday, the president will unveil a pair of executive orders designed to lessen pay discrepancies for women and minorities working for either the government or federal contractors.

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