AMLE, ASA Launch Funding Contest for Educators to Kickstart Middle Grades Career Exploration Programming

The Playbook Challenge

For Immediate Release

November 8, 2021

Columbus, OH — The Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE) and American Student Assistance (ASA) have collaborated to launch The Playbook Challenge, a funding contest aimed at empowering middle grades educators with the resources they need to initiate meaningful career exploration with their middle grades students.

The contest follows the launch of AMLE and ASA’s joint publication, Career Exploration in the Middle Grades: A Playbook for Educators. The first of its kind specifically for middle schools, the Playbook and its accompanying online resource center outline evidence-based best practices for successfully implementing career exploration with students aged 10-15. The Playbook provides a beginning framework for a variety of career exploration programs, complete with implementation guides and case studies from schools around the United States.

The Challenge offers an exciting opportunity for schools to leverage the Playbook’s to integrate experiential career exploration into existing courses or programs, significantly expand the number of students who have opportunities to participate in career exploration, and support middle to high school transitions while building family and community engagement. Any educator who works with middle grades students, including teachers, school leaders, counselors, can submit a proposal. Those who submit the top three proposals will be awarded $5,000 to bring their program to life during the 2022-2023 school year.

From STEM initiatives to community and family partnerships, educators are encouraged to bring their creativity to their proposals. “We know that career exploration may – and should – look different in each school community,” said Stephanie Simpson, CEO of AMLE, “but it is possible in every school. We want to empower students to discover their strengths and passions, and we know one of the most effective places to do this is at the middle school. That’s why the Playbook Challenge is more than just a funding opportunity, it also comes with a roadmap to help educators design evidence-based, effective career exploration programs.”

“We are proud to partner with AMLE to support middle school educators with the professional development funding they need to enable students to explore and experiment with different career paths earlier in their education journey,” said ASA President and CEO Jean Eddy. “Having access to highly engaging career-connected learning experiences will help today’s young people make informed decisions about postsecondary education and career pathways that will position them for long-term economic mobility.”

Submissions will be accepted through January 31, 2022, and the winning proposals will be announced during the following month. Learn more and apply at


About the Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE)
The Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE) is an international membership organization that helps middle grades educators reach every student, grow professionally, and create great schools. To learn more, visit

About American Student Assistance (ASA)
American Student Assistance® (ASA) is a national nonprofit committed to helping students know themselves, know their options, and make informed decisions to achieve their education and career goals. ASA believes students should have access to career-connected learning, starting in middle school, so they can develop a plan for their future. ASA fulfills its mission by providing digital-first resources directly to students and support for educators and intermediaries. To learn more about ASA, visit[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]