AccelerateMS Announces $8 million Investment in Career Coaches for 125 Mississippi High Schools

Published 1:31 pm Friday, September 2, 2022

Jackson, MS – AccelerateMS is happy to announce an $8M investment in Mississippi high schools to support a significant expansion of the career coach program in Mississippi public high schools.

The program, created through House Bill 1388 and funded through House Bill 1517 of the 2022 Legislative Session, aims to connect and prepare high school students with Mississippi’s most in- demand careers. The $8M project is funded through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

“Through the work of local leaders in Northeast Mississippi and the Mississippi Gulf Coast, our state has built a career coaching model that is transforming the future for students in our K-12 system,” said Governor Tate Reeves. “This dramatic expansion is a direct investment in the future of thousands of Mississippi students and will impact our state for decades to come.”

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As a result of this and other projects, Mississippi’s career coach program is increasing by 500% from 25 coaches to approximately 150 coaches throughout the state.

“We believe that access to one-on-one career coaching will open the eyes of Mississippi high school students to the kinds of high-tech, high-skill jobs available, right here, at home,” said AccelerateMS Executive Director Ryan Miller. “We’ve seen this model create positive impact in communities across the state and believe that – with support from elected officials and members of business and industry – this program will continue to take that impact and grow it exponentially.”

Pending finalization of subgrant agreements and proof of procurement compliance in hiring coaches, money will be awarded to seven grantee organizations, which are slated to hire and deploy career coaches to approximately 125 schools covering 75 school districts in 51 Mississippi counties. Those organizations include:

* Central Mississippi Planning and Development District * Economic Development Authority of Jones County
* North Central Planning and Development District
* Simpson County Development Foundation

* South Delta Planning and Development District
* South Mississippi Planning and Development District * Three Rivers Planning and Development District

Office of Workforce Development 550 High Street Suite 1800 Jackson, MS 39201

The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) recommends a student-to-counselor ratio of no more than 250 students for every school counselor. During the 2020-2021 academic year, Mississippi’s student-to-counselor ratio was 398-to-1. According to the ASCA, lower ratios increase the likelihood of students having conversations with school counselors regarding college and career plans.

School guidance counselors are stretched thin – often managing student assessment, providing mental health support, addressing behavioral issues, and providing counseling services.

“For some students, their high school counselor is the single point of access for conversations around career plans after high school,” said AccelerateMS Program Manager Lori Nail. “Mississippi counselors have extremely full plates and are often unable to provide extensive one-on-one career counseling support as desired. Through this program, we are hoping to increase capacity for the kind of robust career planning supports students need.”

Although AccelerateMS career coaches will be embedded in schools and school districts, they will not be local school or district employees. Career coaches will report to AccelerateMS and will focus solely on interacting with students to improve outcomes in the planning and pursuit of careers. Career Coaches will be in classrooms beginning this Fall, pending hire through the subgrantees


“Economic growth is dependent on educational, industry, and community wide partnerships. Any of these without the other will not produce economic sustainability and prosperity. The Career Coaches are an incredible investment by our state to ensure the success of these relationships, bolster student exposure to industry, and show students the types of opportunities available to them”—Katie McCrary, McCrary-West Construction

“Many students are still considered the first generation in many households. Accelerate MS career coaching opportunities will provide students with a powerful pathway for determining a career path. In contrast, students will have a career coach helping students sort through the maze of reaching the dream of having a productive career.”—Jessie King, Superintendent, Leland School District

“For the three County Area of Northeast Mississippi (Pontotoc, Union and Lee Counties) the Career Coaches have been a real game changer for high school Juniors and Seniors and have led many students to pursue career goals within the region pursuing professions at home here in Mississippi.” – David Rumbarger, President/CEO, Community Development Foundation of Lee County

“Greenville Public Schools is excited to partner with South Delta Planning and Development District in this endeavor to utilize a Career Coach in our schools. The students of GPSD will benefit from the many services and that the Career Coach will provide in helping them decide on their academic and career goals.” – Glenn Dedeaux, Superintendent, Greenville Public School District

Schools Projected to Receive Career Coaching Support

A link to the full press release with quotes and a list of schools projected to receive coaching support can be found HERE.