Three local organizations awarded $40,250 in grants to local schools this week to enhance educational pathways into Madison industries.

Jefferson County Economic Opportunities Through Education (EcO15), the Community Foundation of Madison and Jefferson County and the Jefferson County Industrial Development Corporation awarded the grants.

Kathy Huffman, EcO15 Coordinator for Jefferson County, said in a release that awarding the grants is the first step in the second phase of the EcO15 initiative.

"With this round of funding there were two main focus points, expanding educational pathways in the fields of advanced manufacturing, health care, and STEM along with connecting students to post-secondary education whether that is an industry recognized certification, a two or four-year degree," Huffman said.

Madison Consolidated Schools will receive $22,500 to support the new College and Career Readiness Continuum, a program used to prepare students for post-high school life.

Southwestern added Project Lead the Way Gateway to Technology middle school program this year. All seventh- and eighth- grade students will be introduced to an element of engineering. Seventh-graders will have nine weeks of design and modeling courses and eighth-graders will have nine weeks of automation and robotics as part of this series.

Southwestern will receive $10,750 to support the purchase of VEX Robotics Kits for student projects.

Prince of Peace Schools will receive $7,000 to expand its high school Project Lead the Way program by supporting the addition of the senior level course, engineering design and development. The course will be added to the 2014 fall curriculum.