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Modesto Junior College

Educational partners receive $5 million California Career Pathways grants

A regional educational consortium has been awarded a California Career Pathways grant for $4,910,041. The consortium includes Columbia College, Merced College, Merced County Office of Education, Modesto City Schools, Modesto Junior College (MJC), Patterson Unified School District, San Joaquin Delta College, Stanislaus County Office of Education and Newman-Crows Landing School District.  The grant will be coordinated by MJC, with Yosemite Community College District serving at the fiscal agent. Ceres Unified School District is the recipient of an additional Career Pathways grant of $600,000 for manufacturing career training.

The regional partnership is one of almost 40 consortia across California that are the first recipients of grants under the California Career Pathways Trust, a new $250 million program designed to help students stay in school and move toward college and employment in high-demand fields.

The local consortium award focuses on two distinct industry sectors at both the secondary and postsecondary levels – logistics/warehousing and veterinary sciences. The grant leverages regional work of the “Valley Sierra Collaborative” a consortium composed of four community colleges – Modesto Junior College, Columbia College, Merced College and San Joaquin Delta College.

In the instruction and training of logistics and warehousing, the community colleges will partner with Ceres High School, Patterson High School, Merced and Stanislaus County Offices of Education and local industry in the development and implementation of high school courses, career technical education (CTE) pathway programs, community college certificates and degrees and industry-based certifications that support careers in material handling, business logistics and maintenance and repair.

“The overall goal will be to develop the infrastructure and alignment among schools to support the growing needs of distribution centers and warehousing operations in the region,” said Pedro Mendez, Dean of Public Safety, Technical Education, Workforce Development and Community Education at MJC.

The local area California Career Pathways Trust award will also allow for further development of Modesto Junior College’s veterinary technician program to include large animal veterinary technician training, a veterinary technician Associate of Science degree, pre-veterinary medicine preparation for transfer, and veterinary career pathway development with MJC’s partnering high schools and universities.             

 “The Agriculture & Environmental Sciences Division is excited about the prospect of expanding our already successful veterinary technician program,” said Mark Anglin, Dean of Agriculture and Environmental Science at MJC.  “The overall goal of this program is to prepare individuals to enter the ever expanding field of veterinary medicine.”         

The California Career Pathways Trust was spearheaded last year by Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, establishing a one-time $250 million competitive grant program in the state’s 2013-14 budget. Grant recipients this year include 12 consortia receiving up to $15 million each, 16 receiving up to $6 million each, and 11 receiving awards of up to $600,000 each.

Grant recipients are tasked with creating sustained career pathways programs that connect businesses, K–12 schools, and community colleges to better prepare students for the 21st century workplace. Under State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, the California Department of Education (CDE) administers the program, soliciting and identifying the strongest applications based on a rigorous evaluation process carried out by the CDE and its state partners, the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office and the California Workforce Investment Board.          

“To make good on our goal of a world-class education for every California student, they have to graduate with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the real world,” Torlakson said in a press release announcing the grant recipients. “By demonstrating the relevance of students’ education, these programs not only encourage kids to stay in school, but also combine the rigorous academics and practical experience employers say they need.”         

State officials received 123 eligible applications containing about $709 million in requested grants; nearly triple the $250 million in available funding. Applicants included community college districts, county offices of education, direct-funded charter schools, and school districts.