Today, the California Department of Education (CDE) awarded $250 million to 40 new California Career Pathways Trust (CCPT) local and regional consortia, doubling down on the state’s already unprecedented investment in career pathways and bringing the CCPT total to $500 million dollars and 79 grantees. Even though I have been involved in this work for years, and our Pathways to Prosperity Network helped inform the CCPT, I am nonetheless astounded and impressed by the Golden State’s investment in this important work. It will build on and advance decades of successful and diverse career pathways models across the state—including Linked Learning, a proven approach to education that combines rigorous academics, work-based learning, and integrated student supports. I applaud the California Legislature, as well as the three CCPT lead state partners—the California Department of Education, the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, and the California Workforce Investment Board—for their bold commitment to improving educational opportunities and outcomes and to bolstering workforce and economic development across the state. Together, these state agencies are leading a sea change in an already-growing national wave of efforts to develop rigorous and relevant grades 9-14(+) career pathways that prepare young people for college, career, and citizenship.
State leadership and policy provides the foundation and infrastructure for creating systems of career pathways and is a key implementation lever for our Pathways to Prosperity Network. Yet, as the CCPT grants affirm through their support for regional consortia, this work is ultimately place-based and must be driven by regional and local leadership, meet the needs of real students in real classrooms and communities, and respond to local labor market data and employer needs. That’s what makes this work exciting.
The commitments of diverse partners are an essential component of successful pathways development in each region. Across the 12 Network states—including California—we partner with and learn from over 40 regions, from rural to urban and everything in-between, as we support them in the development of complex pathways that span industry sectors, adolescence through adulthood, and the education through workforce continuum. We help our Network regions forge cross-sectoral partnerships that include K-12, postsecondary, employers (public and private), intermediaries (such as workforce investment boards, chambers of commerce, and nonprofits), local government, and other key stakeholders. Together, these stakeholders work toward increasing the number of skilled young professionals with credentials of value in the labor market and developing talent pipelines in key industry sectors that support regional and state economies.
Leaders in California built these essential regional pathways partnerships into the CCPT design, requiring consortia to include school districts, community colleges, WIBs, and employers, as well as any other entities connected to the work. Earlier this month, our Pathways to Prosperity Network team, in collaboration with CDE, convened the first round of CCPT grantees in Berkeley. Teams from each CCPT consortium came together to share successes and challenges in initial planning and implementation, problem-solve across the grantee network, and learn about emerging and effective practices—both in California and nationally—for deepening the work of career pathways. I was inspired by the round one CCPT grantees’ energy and enthusiasm. One grantee said, “CCPT is a game-changer and will provide a safety net for our students who want a career-focused educational experience!” Another asserted, “CCPT will teach old dogs new tricks.”
It also holds the promise of being transformational for an entire generation of young Californians. The Pathways to Prosperity Network is delighted to be working with California, and I look forward to meeting the new CCPT grantees and celebrating all of their successes into the future!
Photograph copyright iStockphoto/Christopher Futcher, 2012