Sonoma County Office of Education

Sonoma County Public Schools Awarded $9 Million to Expand College and Career Pathways

06/12/2024 -

The Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE) and Sonoma County public schools were recently awarded more than $9 million to help prepare students for college and careers through the Golden State Pathways Program.

The pathways funding, announced by Gov. Gavin Newsom and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, is meant to expand pathways in high-wage, high-skill growth areas, including technology, education, and climate-related fields. These programs, tailored to meet local and regional needs, will be designed to allow students to advance seamlessly from high school to college and career and strengthen our workforce. This work will prioritize integrating career technical education (CTE) coursework with the A-G graduation requirements to attend California’s public universities.

“A growing body of research shows that students engage more deeply with school when they feel what they are learning in the classroom aligns with their goals for after they graduate,” said Dr. Amie Carter, Sonoma County superintendent of schools. “By ensuring our career-focused pathways also ground students in core academic disciplines, we can improve access to both college and career opportunities while engaging them in highly relevant learning.”

To help boost access to this important funding stream, SCOE helped publicize the grant program to Sonoma County educational agencies and encouraged districts to apply for the funding. SCOE facilitated informational sessions to explain the different types of grants, held grant-writing workshops, and served as the lead agency for a consortium grant.

Districts in Sonoma County that were awarded funding included Santa Rosa City Schools, Petaluma City Schools, Windsor Unified School District, West Sonoma County Union High School District, Sonoma Valley Unified School District, and Cloverdale Unified School District. Credo High School, an independent charter school in Rohnert Park, also received funding.

SCOE received $1.2 million in consortium development funding. The funds will support collaboration between SCOE, other local educational agencies, and private-sector partners in the development of high-quality career pathways geared toward the needs of Sonoma County’s unique labor market.

One such partner, the Career Technical Education Foundation (CTE) of Sonoma County, has worked closely with Petaluma City Schools, West Sonoma County Union High School District, and Santa Rosa City Schools’ Elsie Allen High School to align their career technical education offerings with A-G graduation requirements They already are engaged in efforts to scale up that work at a countywide level, thanks to a recent partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Their first order of business has been building a cross-sector collaborative to develop a regional blueprint for health sciences, a growing need in Sonoma County. This will serve as a countywide model for future career pathways.

CTE Foundation Chief Executive Officer Kathy Goodacre said the additional state pathways funding would help accelerate those efforts.

“The Golden State Pathways grants awarded to Sonoma County are a powerful validation of our efforts to champion career-aligned education in our schools,” Goodacre said. “This funding empowers us to keep working closely with SCOE to ensure these programs successfully connect students with the skills and opportunities our local workforce demands. This is how we prepare students for lifelong success.”

The funds awarded to Sonoma County districts and charters are targeted to support planning and implementation of the new pathways. Santa Rosa City Schools’ high school district was awarded $300,000 in planning funding and $1.9 million for implementation, while West Sonoma County Union High School District will receive $200,000 for planning.

The remaining districts and charters received implementation funding. Those include Cloverdale Unified ($779,600); Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified ($640,000); Petaluma City Schools’ high school district ($1.51 million); Sonoma Valley Unified ($703,000); Windsor Unified ($1.116 million); and Credo High School ($668,000).