On the day President Barack Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act – a replacement for the much-maligned No Child Left Behind Law – a new education initiative was announced that highlights the way private sector investment in education can complement government policy. The National Math and Science Initiative’s (NMSI) College Readiness Program (CRP) held an event in Bismarck, N.D. on its expansion into the state’s schools courtesy of an up to $13 million investment from ExxonMobil (on behalf of XTO Energy Inc.).

The CRP helps schools improve participation and success in rigorous coursework to better prepare students for college and STEM-intensive careers. The program has proven to dramatically increase the number of students taking and earning qualifying scores through Advanced Placement classes and exams, while expanding access to challenging coursework.

North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple, who attended the event along with local business and civic leaders, higher education representatives and educators, said, “Supporting student achievement and ensuring our young people are equipped with the skills and resources to excel as tomorrow’s leaders are key to North Dakota’s continued success. Partnerships like this one, between business, education and community leaders, are essential to helping students reach their full potential and preparing them for the careers and opportunities of the future.”

CRP’s model provides extensive training for teachers, more time on task for students, and equipment and supplies to support AP coursework.

Greg Pulliam, Public and Government Affairs Manager for the Western Division of XTO Energy, a subsidiary of ExxonMobil, noted that the success of North Dakota’s industries depends on the quality, ingenuity and diversity of its workforce: “We are all well aware that education is the fundamental building block for individual opportunity and economic growth, and we must equip young people with the knowledge and skills – particularly in math and science, which are drivers of 21st century jobs.”

In just one year, NMSI’s program boosts the number of AP qualifying scores in math, science, and English in partner schools by ten times the national average and produces gains among female and minority students traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields.

NMSI Chief Academic Officer Gregg Fleisher called North Dakota an “ideal partner” and emphasized that CRP is an effective solution that helps close achievement gaps and prepares young people for the demands of college-level work and a rapidly-changing workforce.

To date, CRP has expanded to nearly 800 schools across 30 states.