MCC’s Innovative Partnership with Northland CAPS earns Governor Jay Nixon’s Praise

MCC, Northwest, Northland CAPS, Northland schools and area businesses celebrate innovation partnership designation and are awarded a new grant

Courtesy of Darren Whitley/Northwest Missouri State University
Courtesy of Darren Whitley/Northwest Missouri State University

Representatives of the Northland Center for Advanced Professional Studies (Northland CAPS), which includes Kansas City area businesses and six Northland school districts, as well as Metropolitan Community College (MCC) and Northwest Missouri State University gathered at Cerner World Headquarters to celebrate  the designation as an Innovation Education Partnership and the receipt of a grant to help fund the partnership.

The Northland CAPS Innovation Partnership consists of six Missouri K-12 School Districts (Kearney, Liberty, North Kansas City, Park Hill, Platte County and Smithville), MCC, Northwest and Missouri-based business partners, including BankLiberty, Cerner Corporation, Ford Motor Company, Holland 1916, Liberty Hospital and North Kansas City Hospital.

The Innovative Education Partnership, known also as a Missouri Innovation Campus, is a designation awarded by the Missouri Department of Higher Education (MDHE) under section 178.1100, RSMo.

Gov. Jay Nixon was on hand to address the Innovation Education Partnership designation and announced the award of a Missouri Campus Collaborative Missouri Innovation Campus Grant funded by USA Funds and provided to the state of Missouri.

“Missouri’s Innovation Campus initiative has become a national model for providing our future workforce with more skills, in less time and at a lower cost,” Nixon said.“The Northland CAPS Innovation Campus is already putting hundreds of students on a fast-track to success in future careers, and this official designation will ensure that hundreds more will have this opportunity in the years ahead.”

Nixon added, “I appreciate the strong corporate partners, including Cerner, Ford Motor Company, Holland 1916, BankLiberty, Liberty Hospital and North Kansas City Hospital, for their leadership in working with local schools and colleges to strengthen our workforce and economy.”

The Northland CAPS Innovation Partnership is building upon this recent designation in creating an educational alliance that will develop a highly-skilled 21st century workforce to meet emerging regional business needs.

“Cerner’s marketplace is highly competitive, and the expectations our healthcare clients have of us are understandably evermore complex,” said Laura Evans, the senior director of human capital strategy and talent development for Cerner Corporation and chair of the Northland CAPS advisory board. “To continue to thrive, we are constantly seeking talented individuals who can communicate, collaborate, problem-solve and adapt. Not surprisingly, we often find the best talent comes out of education organizations that also exhibit these critical skills.”

Evans added, “We are excited by the leadership and teamwork we have seen from the educators launching the Northland CAPS Innovation Partnership, and we are pleased to have the opportunity to be a part of this nimble, connected alliance. I believe these are the kinds of initiatives that are essential to ensure our community is one where students are equipped for success and businesses can grow and thrive.”

The designation is a next step in the Northland CAPS collaboration. CAPS is a nationally recognized, innovative high school program producing internships, immersive experiences, student-held provisional patents and student-owned businesses. Launched in 2013, Northland CAPS enrollment in 2014-2015 across the six school districts totals more than 300 students with significant growth being projected in 2015-2016 and beyond. Students enrolled in the program receive college credit through MCC and Northwest.

The seamless pipeline approach designed to reduce costs and completion time for college allows students to be immersed in professional environments engaging in curriculum driven by industry professionals and delivered by certified instructors. Northland CAPS is driven by the changing workforce needs of industry and jobs-based economic development, and its curriculum is dynamic, constantly evolving to follow industry trends and market changes using a copyrighted, rapid prototyping curriculum development process.

“The Innovative Education Partnership designation signifies a deep and committed collaboration between our business partners, Northland CAPS partners, Metropolitan Community College and Northwest,” said Northwest President Dr. John Jasinski, who submitted the proposal for the designation on behalf of Northland CAPS. “Northwest is proud and humbled to work with our partners as we continue to develop a seamless pipeline to complete a Northwest degree connected to industry needs.”

MCC Chancellor Mark James says the collaboration is a strong example of multiple institutions working together to prepare students for future success.

“We are very excited about being the community college partner within this Innovative Education Partnership,” James said. “This innovation provides hundreds of students from six northland school districts the opportunity to receive early college credit with MCC while gaining hands-on experience with our business partners. Our partnership with Northwest Missouri State University then allows a seamless transfer of our students to help them complete their baccalaureate degree.”

Added Donna Deeds, regional executive director of Northland CAPS, “Education and industry partnering to develop the human capital needed to grow our regional economy is very rare. Globally, 75 million young people are unemployed, but businesses can’t find enough skilled employees to fill job vacancies. Together, we are creating seamless pipelines for students to efficiently and effectively bridge the gap between education and high-demand, high-skill careers.”

The grant announcement by Gov. Nixon comes through support from USA Funds awarding $450,000 to the Northland CAPS Innovation Partnership. The competitive grant process was administered through the Governor’s Office and MDHE.

“Funding from USA Funds, with support from the Governor’s Office, the Missouri Department of Higher Education and the Missouri Department of Economic Development is absolutely invaluable as the partner consortium continues to adapt, transform and innovate,” Jasinski said.

About the Innovative Education Partnership

The Innovative Education Partnership works to connect students with a quality education and connect businesses with a skilled career-ready workforce. Through the Northland CAPS program, students are immersed in professional environments with industry partners who mentor students to achieve real-world results. By involving Northwest and MCC, the partnership provides advanced education opportunities for students that are tailored to meet their educational needs. The partnership also will provide opportunities for students to earn college credit toward degrees from MCC and Northwest. With the designation, the Northland CAPS Innovation Partnership is eligible to request funding from the state’s Innovation Education Campus Fund and meet criteria set by the state’s Coordinating Board for Higher Education. An Innovative Education Partnership must consist of at least one of each of the following entities:

  • A Missouri high school or K-12 school district
  • A Missouri four-year public or independent higher education institution
  • A Missouri two-year public higher education institution or the state technical college of Missouri
  • A Missouri-based business or businesses

The partnership seeks to actively lower the cost for students to complete a college degree; decrease the amount of time a student needs to earn a college degree; provides applied and project-based learning experiences for its students while leveraging curriculum developed in consultation with business partners; helps students graduate with direct access to internship, apprentice, part-time or full-time career opportunities; and helps students engage with industry stakeholders in ongoing program development and program outcomes review.

About Northland CAPS

Northland CAPS is revolutionizing high school education through a profession-based educational model, created in partnership with BankLiberty, Cerner, Ford, Holland 1916, Liberty Hospital and North Kansas City Hospital. The program serves junior and senior students in six northland school districts – Kearney, Liberty, North Kansas City, Park Hill, Platte County and Smithville – and is designed to provide high school students the skills needed to succeed in the competitive college environment and global workforce. Students are fully immersed in a profession-based learning approach and gain experience by working with real businesses, assisting and learning through meaningful projects. In addition to being a part of real businesses, students have opportunities to earn unpaid internships in the field and convert those into paid internships. Students in the Northland CAPS program meet for 2.5-hour blocks, receiving high school elective credit and college credit. In addition to important profession-based learning skills the students acquire, they gain professional skills such as problem solving, time and project management skills, business ethics and self-discipline. Recently, Northland CAPS was awarded the 2014 Keystone Vision Award from the Clay County Economic Development Council, recognizing the program’s positive impact on workforce and economic development. To learn more, visit