Sonoma County Office of Education

$15 million regional grant to link education & careers

06/03/2014 - The Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE) has been awarded a California Career Pathways Trust grant of $15 million to serve as the lead agency for a six-county alliance designed to help students stay in school and move toward college and employment in high-demand fields. The three-year grant will create career pathway programs that connect K-12 schools, community colleges, and businesses throughout Lake, Napa, Marin, Mendocino, Solano, and Sonoma counties.

“This grant is an opportunity to ensure that young people are well prepared for their future and that the economic and workforce needs of our region are addressed,” says Stephen Jackson, SCOE’s director of Career Technical Education and one of organizers of the grant project.

The grant is one of just 12 awarded at the “up to $15 million” level. An additional 27 grant recipients were announced at lower funding levels as part of this one-time competitive grant program administered by the California Department of Education.

Business and education representatives from all six counties came together to form the Northern California Career Pathway Alliance and develop the particulars of the grant proposal. The Alliance includes 37 high schools, six county offices of education, five community colleges, five county workforce investment boards, and leading employers throughout the region.

CTE Grant Team
As part of the grant review process, representatives of the Northern California
Career Pathway Alliance were interviewed in Sacramento.

The high school pathways will provide students with sequenced courses aligned with both the Career Technical Education (CTE) and Common Core standards for California schools. To effectively merge these standards and provide rigorous content, courses will be taught by teams consisting of at least one CTE teacher and one core academic teacher. Teacher teams will be supported by “pathway coaches” who have expertise in curriculum integration.

The proposed 67 high school pathways will be articulated to 38 community college pathways, allowing students to smoothly transition to post-secondary education and training. Participating community colleges have agreed to expand or refine their programs to provide effective grade 10-14 articulation and dual high school-college enrollment.

The Alliance completed extensive research to ensure that its proposed pathways would provide a pipeline to high-skill, high-wage, and high-growth employment opportunities projected for the region. Business and industry partners have been secured for each of the pathway sectors. Work-based learning specialists will be placed in each county to create linkages between participating schools and businesses. In rural areas of the region, video-conferencing will be used to bring the workplace into the classroom.

The workforce investment boards in all participating counties were actively involved in the grant’s development and are committed to successful implementation.

“The workforce investment board directors are extremely pleased that the state has recognized the strong partnerships that are a hallmark of the North Bay. This grant will allow the education, workforce development, and employer partners to strengthen our workforce pipeline for an economically vibrant future,” says Racy Ming, director of the Marin County Workforce Investment Board.

This major regional grant will complement the career pathways work already under way in Sonoma County, including those programs supported by public-private partnerships. “It will help local school districts develop their career pathway programs, prepare their teachers, and equip their classrooms. This directly supports the Career Technical Education (CTE) Fund’s efforts to seed the development of new CTE courses that align with the economic development needs of our county,” says Kathy Goodacre, CTE Fund executive director.

Implementation of the grant will begin immediately and start serving students in the 2014-15 school year.