Online platform will help connect WAPS students, teachers with local employers


An innovative online platform that connects “classrooms to careers and life to learning” will soon be available for students and teachers in Winona Area Public Schools.

Southeast Service Cooperative, a public nonprofit based in Rochester, Minn., has launched FutureFoward, a regional tool developed to connect local educators and their students with employers for career-connected learning experiences. 

An open house will be held from 5-7 p.m. on Wednesday, January 22, at Winona Senior High School, 901 Gilmore Avenue, Winona, to introduce the program to teachers, students, parents, and businesses. 

FutureForward will be available for students and teachers at Winona Senior High School, Winona Area Learning Center, and Winona Middle School. The cost is being covered by a grant from the Minnesota Department of Education.

“It’s an exciting time for southeastern Minnesota,” said Sarah Ness, FutureForward program manager. “There is so much momentum to work together to help our kids deeply explore career pathways and to meet the workforce needs in the region.”

FutureForward is a web-based communication, event, partner, and resource-management tool that seamlessly connects classrooms to careers and life to learning. Employers may sign up to be classroom speakers or post opportunities such as career events, site tours, job shadows, teacher externships, and student internships. 

The Winona Area Chamber of Commerce is assisting this partnership by sharing the benefits with Winona area businesses. 

“Employers are an important part of the equation,” Southeast Service Cooperative Executive Director Steve Sallee said. “FutureForward will help them connect with students as a potential employees and get a fresh point of view from youth.”

FutureForward can also help students identify their career choice and make informed decisions about whether to invest in their career through traditional post-secondary education, or if a career-specific training program is the best option. It will benefit teachers by offering an easy way to connect with local businesses for guest speakers. 

FutureForward will complement the REACH initiative, career pathways, and other programs available to help Winona Area Public Schools create a quality workforce equipped with the necessary skills to meet the needs of the future, as required by the World’s Best Workforce plan. More information can be found at


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