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24 schools to get over $100m in grants

Obama sees funds as an investment in future workers

President Obama looked at a student’s work during his visit Monday to Bladensburg High School in Bladensburg, Md. The school was a recipient of the president’s education grant.

Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press

President Obama looked at a student’s work during his visit Monday to Bladensburg High School in Bladensburg, Md. The school was a recipient of the president’s education grant.

BLADENSBURG, Md. — President Obama on Monday announced more than $100 million in grants for two dozen schools across the country that are helping students gain work experience for what he called the ‘‘in-demand jobs of the future.’’

The money, which comes from fees that companies pay for visas to hire foreign workers for specialized jobs, is the result of an executive order Obama signed last year to better prepare high school students for college or for careers.

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Students are working on ‘‘cooler stuff than when I was in high school,’’ Obama said as he announced the grants before cheering high school students in Washington’s Maryland suburbs.

A total of 24 schools are being awarded the money after a nationwide competition, including the Los Angeles Unified School District, the New York City Department of Education, and districts in Denver, Indianapolis, and Clinton, S.C.

Obama explained that it will allow schools to ‘‘develop and test new curricula and models for success. We want to invest in your future,’’ he said.

Obama announced the grants at Bladensburg High School, one of three high schools in Washington’s Maryland suburbs that have created a Youth CareerConnect Program that is the recipient of $7 million under the announcement.

Students at Bladensburg work on real-world projects with community partners to get ready for college admission or careers.

The grant at the school, where more than 70 percent of students are low income, will expand the Health & Biosciences Academy to prepare more students for careers in the region’s fast-growing health care field.

In another effort to make education more accessible, Vice President Joe Biden announced that the Education and Labor departments will run a program to facilitate community college students getting academic credit for apprenticeships in business and industry, in line with the federal job training revamp that Biden has been charged with leading.

Colleges will agree to provide credit for apprenticeships that are certified by an independent group, enabling students to finish their degrees quicker.

Obama also planned to take action Tuesday to use the federal government’s vast array of contractors to impose rules on wages, pay disparities and hiring on a segment of the private sector that gets taxpayer money and falls under his control.

He was scheduled to issue an order prohibiting federal contractors from retaliating against workers who discuss their pay and direct the Labor Department to issue new rules requiring federal contractors to provide compensation data that includes a breakdown by race and gender.

The steps, which Obama plans to take at a White House event, take aim at pay disparities between men and women. The Senate this week is scheduled to take up gender pay equity legislation that would affect all employers, but the White House-backed bill doesn’t have enough Republican support to overcome procedural obstacles and will probably fail.

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