The consistent focus on skills unites learning across contexts and increases students’ opportunities
to learn, practice, apply and demonstrate them. Experiences on college campuses, in workplace
settings, at program sites and across individual classrooms are all linked by a focus on
increasing student readiness for college, career and life.

Process Overview


There is a disconnect between what students are learning and what the world demands.


To build the capacity of educators, school leadership, employer and youth-serving partners to provide students meaningful & effective 21st century skill building experiences that prepare them for postsecondary success.


Delivering skills-based workforce development support for school-based educators and their employer partners

Providing customized instructional coaching for classroom teachers

Convening school leadership and their youth-serving partners in collaborative professional learning workshops

Schools + Partners

SCHOOLS CTE, YABC, Transfer, Portfolio based, and traditional HS
PARTNERS Community Based Organizations
EDUCATORS Principals, Assistant Principals, Teachers, Counselors, Community Associates
STUDENTS served in the NYC area in the 9th-12th grade

Skills Framework

  • NYC Skills Lab uses a skills framework developed by MHA Labs. MHA Labs has used research to isolate a core set of easy-to-understand 21st century skills and organized them into domains called the Building Blocks.

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Support Strategies

  • Dedicated coaching support which includes monthly classroom observations and coaching visits
  • Quarterly Professional Learning Communities
  • Co-creation of activities, units,  lessons, and tools
  • Funding for schools to plan and implement skills -based learning activities



Performance Tasks

  • Work Based Problems
  • Design Challenges
  • Infomercials
  • Student Driven Campaigns

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Innovation Projects

  • Building Student Awareness of 21st Century Skills acquisition by blogging about ELO experiences
  • School Wide Adoption / customization of MHA 21st century skills framework
  • Strengthening students social and emotional skills and competencies

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targeted achievements

  • 30+ Tasks as living examples of learning experiences co-constructed w/ 21st century skill integration
  • Shareable knowledge on how to support school and partners to build learning experiences
  • Promising tested sharable school innovations and lessons learned
  • A Toolkit for educators to integrate 21st century skills development into High School internship programs
  • A collection of resources for educators to use in designing & implementing  21st century skills into classroom instruction
  • Conference Presentations:
    • SXSWedu Future 15 (2016)
    • GE Foundation: Education Summit (2016)
    • GE Foundation: Leadership for the Future (2017)





About Skills Lab

Skills Lab benefits students by prioritizing 21st century skills development across a range of integrated settings. It supports educators and their collaborating partners to co-design and co-deliver rich learning experiences in the forms of performance tasks, work-based challenges, case studies, and other problem-based engagements. The initiative involves year-round coaching and work with a diversity of industry and community partners to enhance the quality and quantity of learning experiences available to students.  The initiative will culminate in a set of codified products, tools and resources that support skills integration, task development, and constructive feedback practices reinforcing anytime, anywhere learning. Participating schools are receiving support to prototype customized innovations that deepen learning and build teacher capacity. The Skills Lab is supported by funding from GE Foundation.

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About GE Foundation

The GE Foundation, the philanthropic organization of GE, has a rich history of building a world that works better. We empower people by helping them develop the skills they need to succeed in a global economy. We equip communities with the technology and capacity to improve access to better health and education. We elevate ideas that are tackling the world’s toughest challenges to advance economic development and improve lives. The GE Foundation is powered by the generosity and talent of our employees, who have a strong commitment to their communities.

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Our Partners

NYC Department of Education – Office of Post Secondary Readiness
GE Foundation
MHA Labs
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No One Cares About Standards – We Want Skills

Outside the realm of K-12 education, the rhetoric of standards has no meaning. Focusing on skills is tangible and transferable for students. The NYC DOE Skills Lab Pilot is funded by the GE Foundation to enhance the scope of skill-building experiences designed to prepare students for college and career success. By shifting the focus from standards to skills, educators and collaborating partners, co-design and deliver contextualized performance tasks that promote students’ mastery of 21st century skills. This initiative is a unique example of how stakeholders can challenge the existing paradigm to provide students authentic learning experiences.

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