Governor Youngkin Announces 13 Grants for Innovative Lab Schools

Office of Governor Glenn Youngkin | March 7, 2023

(News Release) — Governor Glenn Youngkin today announced the first thirteen approved planning grants to develop innovative lab schools in the Commonwealth.  

“Restoring excellence in the Commonwealth’s education system has been a top priority of this administration since Day One,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “By fostering partnerships between our top ranked education institutions and Virginia’s most critical employers, we are preparing our young people to graduate workforce or college ready.”

“Students in the Commonwealth deserve the opportunity to be immersed in an innovative educational experience that provides both exposure and experience in the world beyond the school walls which prepares them for academic and lifelong success,” said Secretary of Education Aimee Guidera“I am thrilled to see so many rich partnerships between higher education, K-12 and the private sector that reimagine and start to transform the one-size-fits-all system.” 

A Lab School is a public, nonsectarian, nonreligious school established by a public institution of higher education, public higher education center, institute, authority or other eligible institution of higher education. Lab Schools are designed to stimulate the development of innovative education programs for preschool through grade 12 students.

During the 2022 Special Session the General Assembly awarded $100 million from the Department of Education to support the Virginia College Partnership Laboratory School program. 

The award will restore excellence in education by providing: 

  • $5 million for planning grants of up to $200,000 to support design of new lab schools; 
  • $20 million for initial start-up grants of up to $1 million to make one-time purchases necessary to launch a lab school; and 
  • $75 million for per-pupil operating funds to support ongoing expenses for operation and maintenance of a lab school. 

The following thirteen planning grants have been awarded to date:

University of Mary Washington 

  • University of Mary Washington proposes a computer and data science high school focused on preparing students for college, career opportunities, and the teaching profession. They are considering an extended school year, work-based learning opportunities, and innovative instructional approaches.

Mountain Gateway Community College 

  • Mountain Gateway Community College proposes a high school IT Academy focused on cybersecurity, cloud community, and IT technical support. Students will be able to earn credentials in various coding languages, including Amazon Web Services (AWS) Certified Cloud Practitioner. 

George Mason University 

  • George Mason University proposes an Accelerated College Pathways Academy focused on IT, expanding Mason’s tech talent degree programs, and having students graduate with an Associate’s degree along with their high school diploma. 

Old Dominion University 

  • Old Dominion University proposes a Maritime and Coastal Innovation Collaboratory, a STEM/CTE high school focused on the maritime industry. One pathway will include a strong focus on career and technical education and prepare students for careers immediately after graduating from high school. A second pathway will focus on preparing students for college programs designed to produce graduates ready for STEM careers in the maritime field. 

Virginia Commonwealth University 

  • Virginia Commonwealth University proposes to combine their Teacher Residency program with CodeRVA High School to develop a workforce of teachers that are able to provide computer science-focused education to their future students. 

Eastern Shore Community College 

  • Eastern Shore Community College proposes The Aerospace Academy Lab School of Eastern Shore, a Pre-K through 12th grade STEM school focused on increasing awareness of STEM careers, specifically in the aerospace industry. There will also be increased dual enrollment opportunities for high school aged students.  

Germanna Community College 

  • Germanna Community College proposes The Piedmont Regional Pathway to Teaching (PRPT), a Pre-K through 12th grade school meant to streamline the educational and licensure process for future teachers and provide students with rigorous, hands-on instruction in schools and a route to completion and placement in as little as two years after high school graduation. 

Emory and Henry College 

  • Emory and Henry proposes the Southwest Virginia Healthcare Excellence Academy Laboratory School, a high school career academy for 10th through 12th graders to serve as a “pipeline” for preparing future healthcare professionals to meet the workforce shortages in Southwest Virginia. 

University of Virginia  

  • University of Virginia proposes a 7th and 8th grade STEM+CS lab school focused on developing a community of practice around education that incorporates interdisciplinary, project-based, computing-rich learning experiences; developing technical skills for future workforce success by solving real-world and community-based problems with computational tools; and engaging students by incorporating their voices and choices throughout the learning process.  

University of Lynchburg 

  • University of Lynchburg proposes a K through 5th school focused on early literacy instruction and the science of reading.  

Virginia Union University

  • Virginia Union University proposes an integrated STEAM lab school for at-risk 6th through 8th graders with a graduated five-year plan to add a secondary grade level (9th through 12th) each subsequent year after launching with a goal of dual enrollment for academically ready students.  

Norfolk State University

  • Norfolk State University proposes a reading for STEAM interdisciplinary, gifted program to shape early literacy skills of students in pre-school through 2nd grade with regular in-service training for teachers in evidence-based literacy instruction. 

Old Dominion University-Chesapeake

  • Old Dominion University-Chesapeake proposes to provide project-based learning activities and other experiential learning practices to promote the development of computational thinking, problem-solving, critical thinking abilities, and other skills required for success in computer science coursework. The curriculum will be designed to prepare students for three tracks in high school – a career track, an IB track, and a dual enrollment track.

The Department of Education is currently reviewing an additional 3 planning grant applications and 2 lab school launch applications. 

Find more information on Lab Schools here.