A New Template for Implementing Your District-Wide Academic/Career Plan and Portfolio System Using SmartFutures.org


You've trusted us with your subscription. Now it's time for us to deliver YOU a holiday gift.

Smart Futures now provides its subscribers with a drop-in plan for implementing your district-wide (or school-wide) career plan and portfolio system using SmartFutures.org.

The Plan is broken into 3 parts:

  • Tier One and Tier Two Interventions
  • A five-section description of the Academic and Career Plan and Portfolio Process
  • Descriptions and examples of the four (4) main student outputs: the grade band Activity Journals, 6-8 Career Plans, K-12 Career Plans, and K-12 Career Portfolios 

This is a great tool for school-wide training and will (hopefully) encourage buy-in from all school staff.

The plan is available to subscribing districts and will be updated on a regular basis as new activities and features are added to the platform. Subscribers can contact David Mosey to request the document. 

A New Template for Integrating SmartFutures.org to Your K-12 School Guidance Plan


Smart Futures now also provides a pre-filled template which incorporates the key elements that SmartFutures.org provides to the Plan. The template is aligned to Career Ready PA's Self-Assessment Rubric and addresses the four components and the 13 concepts for evaluating the specific components. For subscribers to SmartFutures.org, the template makes it easy to integrate the state Academic Standards for Career Education and Work (CEW) within your plan.   

Smart Futures Wins the 2020 Innovator of the Year Award


Smart Futures has received the 2020 Innovator of the Year Award the in the category of Non-Profit / Education / Community.

For 24 years, the Pittsburgh Technology Council's Tech 50 Awards honors technology innovation that happened in the Southwestern Pennsylvania region during the current year.
The award recognizes SmartFutures.org for becoming the nation's first state-based, portable career planning and portfolio platform. The description from the awards ceremony reads as follows:
Smart Futures is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping PA kids, teens, and young adults understand who they are, where they’re going, and how to get there. Smart Futures has dedicated themselves to providing PA schools with an online platform that makes it easy for them to comply with the recent Governor’s mandate requiring every student to create a K-12 career plan and portfolio. Currently used by 25% of all PA schools, serving more than 600,000 students and 40,000 teachers, Smart Futures continues to grow rapidly. They are the first educational software application in the U.S. to offer student accounts and artifacts that are portable between districts, schools, career/technical schools and community-based organizations.

Smart Futures is revolutionizing the market and further establishing Pittsburgh as a leader in cutting-edge Ed-Tech software companies by fully disrupting the way schools think about post-secondary decision-making and planning—no longer assuming that college is the golden ticket and continuing to demonstrate the value of skills over degrees. In terms of a product model, Smart Futures will challenge the way student account subscriptions are managed, particularly pushing companies to develop solutions about how accounts can be ported with the student as they change their learning environment. In addition, it will set a benchmark on how student data can safely and securely be shared by the various organizations within each community.
Thank You Tech 50 and the Pittsburgh Technology Council for this wonderful honor.

New: 6-8 Career Plan

screenshot of cover of 6-8 Career Plan from Smart Futures
We've got something special for the grade 6-8 students next year. 

In addition to the five new activity modules in grades 6-8, SmartFutures.org also is releasing a special My 6-8 Career Plan.

Although the SF K-12 career plan satisfies compliance, we felt that middle school students deserved something special, especially because the creation of an individualized career plan is specifically mentioned in Pennsylvania's Career Education and Work Standards.

The 6-8 Career Plan is automatically generated upon completion of the four primary 6-8 surveys:

  • My Interests 
  • My Work Values 
  • My Career Clusters and Pathways 
  • My Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

Here are the details around this thoughtful, graphically beautiful document:

  • Fully illustrated, four-color 
  • Written from the perspective of a caring career counselor 
  • Customized to the students survey results and favorite careers Nearly 30 pages

You'll definitely want to email this one to the parents. Check it out.

See Sample

Inclusion of Military Careers, Certifications, and Apprenticeships

By request of some our most passionate educators, SmartFutures.org now contains a complete set of military career cards within its Favorite Careers Folder and Careers Card Resource Center. 

Students can now add both civilian careers and military careers as "Favorites." Military career cards show the branches the career is offered within and even align to students interests and cluster favorites.

Summer 2020 Curriculum Updates

Three (3) Revised Grade 9-Adult Activities

We are pleased to announce key updates/replacements to three of the 9-Adult activities.

  • Activity 4: Preparation for Careers
  • Activity 8: Experiencing Careers While Still in School
  • Activity 9: Selecting your Career Goal

Watch Experiencing Careers video

These updates are currently integrated and can be seen by logging into your student account at https://smartfutures.org.

Five (5) Activities added for Grades 6-8

We are pleased to announce these new activities to the 6-8 curriculum:

  • Activity 12: My Learning Style
  • Activity 13: The Changing Workplace
  • Activity 14: My Business Plan
  • Activity 15: The Economics of Jobs
  • Activity 16: Tour of My CTC

Watch My Learning Style video

These updates are currently being integrated into https://SmartFutures.org now and will all be available soon.

Thank You to the Summer 2020 Curriculum Team

We had an amazing summer with this year's group of interns from Carnegie Mellon University leading the way with their creativity and hard work.

Meixuan (Lucy) Li
Kevin Wang

Suzette Oberhol-Schultz

Thanks also go to the volunteer mentors who coached and supported the intern superstars as they created the 8 new activities this summer. Serving as coaches were Ginny Barrett from Central Bucks, Karen Smith from Newport SD, Michelle Dubbs from Shippensburg Area SD, Jackie Jaros from Dear Lakes, education consultant Chris Herman, and Alice Justice representing herself. Jackie and Alice even authored their own activities. Great job!

Virtual Learning Tips for Parents

This fall, going back to school isn't likely to look like the normal that any of us expect. While we may acknowledge that "normal" is not the safest option at the moment, trying to figure out how to best prepare our kids (and our selves!) for virtual learning can be a challenge. Here are some tips for parents to make virtual learning the best experience for everyone:

1. Establish a routine

Having a routine will make it easier for your kids to get back into the swing of things, and will help make the eventual transition back to the classroom easier. It's not necessary to copy the schedule they would have in the classroom, but having at least some structure will help. Keep a designated start time, and break for lunch and snacks at the same time every day. 

This also means things like making sure they get dressed every day (or only allowing pajamas on designated days) and making sure they have a healthy breakfast first. This will help them to establish the difference between being at home and being "at school" which will help them focus on their learning and tasks better. 

2. Set up a designated workspace 

Just like a designated routine helps students focus, so does having a designated place to work will help your learners focus on their work, too. This can be simply a desk or work surface in a different room from toys and other distractions. Talk with your kid(s) and see what kind of work area they would like. If you have more than one student at home, discuss with them whether or not they want to work in the same area or in different spaces.

Getting your kid(s) involved in the setup might help them to get more excited about what going "back to school." Just like picking school supplies like pencils and notebooks and pencil cases, if your budget allows, allow your kid(s) to pick decorations or accessories for the area, such as a new chair or pencil holder for the desk space.

3. Keep open communication with your child(ren)'s teachers

It will be important for you and your child(ren)'s teacher to have open communication channels with each other to ensure your child(ren)'s success. Make sure you know what assignments are due when, and how to reach the teacher if your learner has a question about the material or how to complete an assignment. 

4. Try to stay positive

Kids often reflect the attitudes and emotions they see in their parents, so it's important to your child's success to make sure they see you keeping a positive attitude about the temporary virtual learning. Every family will have their own challenges to face with regard to virtual learning, and each school/school district and teacher has their own challenges to navigate. While everyone wants a return to the normal and the familiar, we must also learn to adapt to changes. When kids see their parents and caregivers staying positive and adjust to changing situations, it helps the kids to learn how to do that as well. 

5. Be patient -with everyone

This isn't the back to school that anyone anticipated this fall, but it is the one we have. Many schools, teachers, families, and kids are adjusting to new routines and requirements. Don't expect everyone to get it right the first - or even the second - time. Be patient with everyone - including yourself - as we all navigate the changes and find which routines and environments work best for us. 

For more information on this topic, here's some resources we like: