$15 million award for Tulare/Kings County Consortium, PUSD is mentor

California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson has announced an award of close to $15 million to the Tulare/Kings County Consortium from the California Career Pathways Trust (CPT) fund — money that will be used to expand Linked Learning opportunities for students across the two counties, giving them the skills they need to succeed in college, career and life.

Linked Learning is a proven education approach that integrates rigorous academics with work-based learning opportunities.

The CPT funding specifically allows the consortium to develop the infrastructure needed to link the region’s employer base with schools, said Darrell Steinberg, Senate President pro Tempore, the creator of CPT, which provides $250 million in competitive grants that encourage partnerships between schools, community colleges and businesses to create and strengthen Linked Learning.

“This is the largest investment in the country,” Steinberg said during a Friday afternoon press conference. “This creates opportunities for hundreds of thousands of students. We are building the infrastructure to work together — teachers and employers. This is re-engineering California high schools.”

The Tulare/Kings Consortium will get up to $14,790. And at the head of it all, serving as the mentor district, is the Porterville Unified School District.

“We are very excited to be leading Linked Learning efforts in our region,” said John Snavely, Superintendent of the Porterville Unified School District, home to nine Pathway academies, with more on the way. “Linked Learning has already made a huge impact for students locally. We have seen tremendous gains in student outcomes as a result of Linked learning and this funding will help us ensure that our students continue to get the resources they need to thrive in college and in the professional world.”

Being able to take Linked Learning county wide will expand the opportunities for many more students, Snavely said.

“We are excited on what we can do with Linked Learning. Every high school district will have one pathway at its high school,” Snavely said. “Through AB790, Snavely we have worked with six school districts [through a Linked Learning Pilot Program,] now to take it to 11 school districts and two community colleges, is very exciting.”

Linked Learning students have higher graduate rates, higher test scores and are more likely to enroll in a postsecondary degree program than their peers at traditional high schools.

“We know that Linked Learning is ensuring that students graduate high school with the skills they need to be successful in both college and in our local job market,” said John Corkins. “With this grant, the consortium of local school districts will be able to partner with the business sector and offer more work-based learning opportunities for students.”

The internships, mentoring and job shadows offer employers the chance to shape the next wave of California’s workforce, Corkins said.

Tulare County Superintendent of Schools Jim Vidak also expressed excitement with the award, which will be used in 11 participating districts, including Corcoran Unified, Cutler-Orosi Joint Unified, Dinuba Unified, Exeter Unified, Hanford Joint Union High School District, Lemoore Union School, Lindsay Unified, Porterville Unified, Tulare Join Union High School District, Visalia Unified and Woodlake Unified.

“We’re excited to be leading Linked Learning efforts in our region,” Vidak said. “Linked Learning has already made a huge impact for our students. We’ve seen tremendous gains in student outcomes as a result of Linked Learning, and this funding will help us ensure that our students get the resources they need to thrive in college and in the professional world.”

Linked Learning offers pathways in California’s top industries, including engineering, performing arts, health care, law and more. In the Tulare/Kings Consortium, up to 45 pathways will be developed throughout all of the participating high schools.

“We know that Linked Learning is ensuring that students graduate high school with the skills they need to be successful in both college and in our local job market,” said Architect Gilbert Bareng, with Mangini Associates, Inc. Tellian Parish McLain. “With this grant, the consortium of local school districts will be able to partner with the business sector and offer more work-based learning opportunities for students. Internships, mentoring, and job shadowing offer employers the chance to shape the next wave of California’s workforce.”

In all, State officials received more than 100 eligible applications requesting some $709 million in funding. Recipients of the grants were selected through a rigorous process that included detailed and thoroughly-reviewed applications and panel interviews.

Contact Reporter Esther Avila at 784-5000, Ext. 1045. Follow her on Twitter @Avila_recorder.