How could $5,000 jumpstart career exploration at your school?

The middle grades are a pivotal time in students’ development, as they begin to form their identity and envision the future. Career exploration is a cornerstone of this process and is associated with both positive educational and employment outcomes, keeps students engaged in school, and helps them develop a better sense of self. That’s why ASA and AMLE have teamed up to create Career Exploration in the Middle Grades: A Playbook for Educators that offers a roadmap that ANY school can use to create an impactful program for their students.


Take the Playbook Challenge and empower your students to discover their strengths and passions by developing your own career exploration program. Any educator(s), including teachers, district/school leadership, counselors, innovation coordinators, etc. can submit a program proposal.

The top three proposals will be awarded $5,000 to get their program started!

You can start big or small, as long as you leverage the best practices outlined in the Playbook. The Playbook Challenge offers an exciting opportunity for schools to:

  1. Integrate experiential career exploration into existing courses or programs, or to adopt proven curricula to establish career exploration initiatives.
  2. Significantly expand the number of students who participate in meaningful career exploration.
  3. Support middle to high school transitions and build family and community engagement.

See the Playbook in action to get ideas and inspiration for the Challenge

Sutton Middle School
Sutton, MA

Uxbridge High School
Uxbridge, MA

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools
Charlotte, NC

How to Submit Your Proposal


Step 1: Grab your Copy of the Playbook

Proposals should reflect the best practices outlined in Career Exploration in the Middle Grades: A Playbook for Educators. Become familiar with the Playbook by downloading the digital version online or ordering a paper copy.

Depending on your role, you will use the District/School Leader, Counselor, or Teacher Action Guide to plan your proposal. These can be found on pages 58-64 of the Playbook or on the Playbook Resource Center.

Need some inspiration? Here are a few ways to start brainstorming your proposal:

  • Check out case studies from schools that have effectively implemented career exploration programs,
  • Watch our recorded webinar with Julie DiPilato, a seventh grade science teacher who started a career exploration program at her school
  • Ask to be connected with a mentor school

Step 2: Draft your Proposal

Proposals can be submitted at Be sure to download the application checklist so you can be sure to have all of the required information when you go to submit your proposal and review the contest rules.

  • Vision and Purpose
  • Program Description
  • Implementation
  • Outcomes
  • Sustainability and Scalability
  • Program Budget


A selection committee comprised of AMLE members and ASA representatives will review submissions and evaluate each against the Playbook Challenge Scoring Rubric.


Playbook Challenge Launch: November 7, 2021 during #AMLE21: The 48th Annual Conference for Middle Level Education

Proposal Submissions Open: November 8, 2021

Submissions Deadline: January 31, 2022 by 11:59 pm ET

Submission Review Period: February 1 – 11, 2022

All entrants will be notified as to the outcome of their submission by February 17, 2022. Winners will be announced on February 18, 2022.


Contact AMLE at with questions related to the Playbook Challenge or for assistance creating your proposal.