Career Path Awards Program

Supporting Graduating Seniors. Advancing Columbus’ Economy

Jaylin Garel and Jason Ricart
Arianna Brown Renee Shumate AEP
Khristian Thacker and Ashlyn Schneider Worthington Industries

The Need

There is great demand in the central Ohio region for employees to fill skilled jobs which do not require a four-year college degree. Many Columbus City Schools (CCS) graduating seniors, who have additional technical skill development and work-savvy attitudes, can be these employees.

Columbus Rotary is partnering with CCS to encourage graduating seniors to pursue advanced technical training in a variety of industries that will lead them to solid, rewarding, and high-paying employment opportunities.

The Career Path Awards Program (CPA) grants $2500 to outstanding students who have demonstrated excellence in preparing for skilled careers through the CCS Career Technology Programs.

Making It Happen

Our 110-year-old club, with a strong history of involvement with CCS and the business community, launched the Career Path Awards Program during the 2021-22 academic year. The Program’s success hinges on corporate sponsors, who provide the funds for the students. Last year, 20 seniors from Ft. Hayes and Columbus Downtown High School received $2500 grants thanks to sponsors such as: American Electric Power, Columbus Association for the Performing Arts (CAPA), Kemba financial, Nationwide Childrens’ Hospital, Danis Construction, Cameron Mitchell Restaurants, AirForce One (HVAC), EasyIT, G&J Pepsi-Cola Bottlers, Ricart Automotive, Rosati Windows, Worthington Industries and the Columbus Rotary Foundation.


A key figure from the sponsoring company, along with a Columbus Rotarian, mentor and advise each individual student awardee about skilled career and training opportunities. The mentors may provide a pathway into direct employment or may work with the student to choose another option in line with their goals. With the support of a mentor, mentees can stay focused on their career, gain confidence, attain goals, and expend their networks.

Why Columbus Rotary?

Our club has decades of experience working with CCS. Our robust college scholarship program has awarded $1.6M to more than 1,400 students from the CCS. The Student Service Above Self Program supported service projects completed by CCS middle and high school students annually. Columbus Rotary is also engaged with Windsor Elementary school to provide reading support, school supplies, and other services as needed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Mission of the Program

The mission of the Columbus Rotary Career Path Awards (CPA) Program is to recognize and provide career mentoring to graduating seniors within the Columbus City School district who have demonstrated excellence in taking advantage of the opportunities offered to prepare for skilled careers that do not require a four-year college degree.

Who is eligible for the Career Path Awards?

Graduating seniors attending Ft Hayes Career Center and Columbus Downtown High School who are pursuing jobs or advanced training in skilled careers outside of a four-year college degree.

  • Students who have demonstrated ability in their chosen career technical field and are earning at least a 3.0 GPA in their career/technical education coursework.
  • Students who have a good school attendance record.
What is the amount of the student award?

In 2024, award amount is $2,500 per selected individual.

How many awards are provided each year?

Awards are made possible by local companies and corporations. Sponsors include Cameron Mitchell Restaurants, CAPA, KEMBA Financial, NiSource, Rosati Windows, Specialty Printing and Processing, Sterling Process Equipment, and Nationwide Children’s Hospital. The number of awards provided depends on the number of corporate sponsors each year. The goal is to present at least 20 awards.

What can the award money be used for?

Award money can be used for any expenses associated with pursing a skilled trade job including, but not limited to:

  • Training course enrollment Fees
  • Tools
  • Specialized work clothing
  • Transportation expenses
  • Certification expenses
How does a student apply for a Career Path Award?

Applications are provided to students attending Ft. Hayes Career Center and Downtown High School by Columbus City School staff and by accessing the application online through a QR code on the flyer.

Students must complete and return all portions of the application before the deadline. When completing the application, the student must list a teacher who will provide a recommendation about the student. This teacher will be sent a recommendation form to complete and return if the student is selected to be interviewed.

How are awardees selected?

Applications are reviewed by Columbus Rotary Career Path Committee members. Top applicants are selected for short, in-person interviews that will occur at the student’s career center. Sample interview questions will be provided in advance. The Columbus Rotary Career Path Awards Committee members select final awardees.

When are the awards announced?

Awardees are notified at their school during a Lunch-and Learn-program organized by Columbus City Schools and Columbus Rotary. The Career Path Awards winners will be presented with a check at an awards ceremony that will take place in mid-May.

How does mentoring work?

The goal of the two one-hour mentoring sessions is to help students navigate the transition from high school to advanced training opportunities and the work world.

Student awardees will be matched with mentors who are knowledgeable about the student’s chosen career path.

The first mentoring session, which will last approximately 60 minutes, will take place at the student’s career center. The second mentoring session may be in person at the career center or by ZOOM, depending on the agreement between the student and mentor.

All mentoring sessions will be scheduled on mutually agreeable dates from late February to late April. Career Path Awardees must participate in two mentoring sessions to receive the $2,500 award.

Who do I contact for more information?

For more information about the Career Path Awards, please email Columbus Rotarian Sandy Knoesel at or (614) 204-1542.

Thank You To Our Sponsors

Past Award Winners