California Allocates $470 Million to Prepare Students for College and Careers

California has fulfilled a pledge from the 2022 budget to support initiatives that ready students for higher education and careers simultaneously.

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office stated on Friday that the state has allocated $470 million to 302 educational entities, including school districts and county offices of education, for the Golden State Pathways program.

This program facilitates the seamless transition for students from high school to college and career, aiming to bolster the workforce necessary for economic expansion.

“This marks a significant investment for the state,” remarked Anne Stanton, president of the Linked Learning Alliance, a nonprofit dedicated to providing youth with career learning opportunities.

Historically, both state and federal authorities have allocated substantial funds for K-12 students’ college or career readiness. However, the Golden State Pathways initiative challenges educational institutions, employers, and community groups to establish focused course pathways for students that prepare them for both college and career. These pathways are designed to equip students with essential skills for high-paying occupations in areas like health care, education, and technology, while also ensuring completion of 12 college credits through dual-enrollment courses and mandatory A-G classes for public university admission.

“By introducing career-focused pathways that also prepare students for college, the Golden State Pathways Program represents a transformative opportunity for California’s youth,” observed State Superintendent of Public Instruction Thurmond.

The Golden State Pathways form a crucial component of the new educational blueprint envisioned by Newsom to revolutionize career education in California, set to be unveiled by year-end.

Most of the funding — $422 million — is being distributed to schools to implement their outlined plans in collaboration with higher education institutions and community partners. The remaining $48 million will aid those requiring grants for planning purposes.

A variety of schools across California, including urban and rural, large and small, have benefited from this funding.

For example, schools in Tehama and Humboldt counties in Northern California, with a combined K-12 enrollment of less than 30,000 students, jointly received approximately $30 million to develop pathways aimed at guiding students towards successful college and career paths with competitive wages.

“This is a significant development for numerous small schools to receive such substantial funding,” noted Jim Southwick, assistant superintendent of the Tehama County Office of Education, which plans to expand career pathways in various fields for students.

Although Tehama schools had previously initiated career pathways at the high school level in partnership with local employers and Shasta College, many students faced challenges in completing these pathways due to inadequate preparation during middle school, Southwick explained.

Furthermore, a successful pilot program at a middle school introduced students to career education, leading to additional funding through the Golden State Pathways to expand similar programs across other middle schools.

Long Beach Unified, the fourth-largest school district in California, received approximately $12 million through the Golden State Pathways program to enhance students’ pathways through counseling, academic support, and expanded access to various learning opportunities.

The district aims to boost dual-enrollment access in collaboration with Long Beach Community College and establish a new pathway focusing on arts, media, and entertainment at selected high schools.

Despite budget uncertainties this year, advocates laud the governor’s steadfast commitment to the program.

Linda Collins, founder of the Career Ladders Project, a group supporting community college redesign for student success, praised the governor’s dedication at a crucial time.

In a statement, Newsom emphasized that this funding will benefit students irrespective of their college pursuit, noting that it “will be a game-changer for thousands of students as the state invests in pathways to good-paying, high-need careers — including those that don’t require college degrees.”

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