Toyota Expands Innovative Pre-K to Master's Degree Pathway Program based on its Blue Ribbon FAME Advanced Manufacturing Program



Photo shows actual students enrolled in Toyota's programs, organized by age, with a four-year-old at the far left and a master's degree student at the far right.


The FAME Career Pathway, started by Toyota in 2010, has long been heralded as the blue ribbon model for STEM, CTE, and career pathways. It uniquely provides a high-demand career pathway from pre-kindergarten to master's degrees by partnering with STEM educator, Project Lead the Way (PLTW); innovative school districts and community colleges; Northwood University; and FAME employers across the nation. The groups work together to establish a pathway with classes and students at every grade level in all institutions. 

The core curriculum is based on a three-element foundation: Technology, Professional Behaviors (soft skills), and Competitive Competencies ("Lean" principles and practices). Graduates can end up with a variety of education degrees, multiple college and industry certifications, and hefty bank accounts from years of working while learning. Those who only come through part of the training, perhaps veering into non-CTE pathways after elementary or high school, are still armed with a hard core curriculum of professional behavioral and character skills that boost work and education success in any field.


The program's pre-K-2nd grade group, which strikes at the core of changing the perception of girls in STEM.


Toyota's reach and impact is impressive. Its FAME program is currently in 27 locations in 11 states (KY, WV, IN, MS, TX, TN, AL, MO, LA, AR, OH), partnering with 27 community colleges, four universities and approximately 300 employers. The good news: Toyota is now partnering with the National Association of Manufacturers to make the model available to all communities, employers and industries. When established, a FAME USA organization, led by the Manufacturing Institute, the nonprofit workforce education arm of NAM, will make the program available nationwide. New locations are already inquiring about adopting the highly effective program.

As Dennis Dio Parker, assistant manager at the Toyota North American Production Support Center and founder of FAME, says:

"We are all aware of the challenge of bringing STEM and CTE to all students, regardless of gender, race, geography, or socio-economic factors. With FAME, we've created a career pathway program and demonstrated that the model works to engage all students. To the best of my knowledge, there is no other program as comprehensive as this one, spanning pre-K through the masters degree. Nor am I aware of any other program that addresses soft skills and business-impactful work practices as comprehensively and with as much process and structure."

Over the next few months, Toyota plans to work with the Manufacturing Institute to set up a fully-staffed FAME USA organization to officially support the program expansion anywhere, for anyone. MI hopes to partner with funders who would like to see the FAME model at work in their communities.