California Career Pathways Trust

Through the 2013 and 2014 Budget Acts, the State of California has set aside $500 million to be allocated by the California Department of Education through the California Career Pathways Trust, a competitive grant fund geared towards the development of work-based learning infrastructure, innovative regional partnerships for career pathway support, and the expansion and improvement of career pathway programs statewide. The scale of this investment is recognition of the value of career pathways, but it is vital that funds are used wisely to provide long-term benefits to as many students as possible.

The first $250 million was awarded in May 2014. Refer to the Career Pathways Trust Press Release for a list of awarded projects. The California Department of Education will release a Request for Applications for the second funding cycle in late 2014.

Priorities of the Trust

Recognizing the need to support infrastructure, policies, and programs that can be sustained beyond the life of the grant program, the Career Pathways Trust is intended to support local and regional partnerships that accomplish the following:

  • Prioritize work-based learning opportunities, as defined in Section 51760.1 of the Education Code, for pupils and students in partnership with regional business and industry, state and local governmental entities, and nonprofit and community-based organizations.
  • Define the labor market of the regional economy in a manner that identifies high-skill, high-wage, high-growth jobs in the current regional economy or in emerging economic sectors.
  • Establish or strengthen existing regional collaborative relationships and partnerships among business entities, schools serving pupils in kindergarten and grades 1 to 12, inclusive, and postsecondary educational agencies, organizations that provide apprenticeship opportunities, and nonprofit or government entities.
  • Develop and integrate standards-based academics with a career-relevant, sequenced curriculum following industry-themed pathways that are aligned to high-skill, high-wage, high-growth jobs in the current regional economy, or in emerging regional economic sectors.
  • Provide articulated pathways from high school to postsecondary education and training that are aligned with the workforce development needs of regional economies.
  • Ensure that career pathway programs are designed and implemented in a manner that leads students to a postsecondary degree or certification in a high-skill, high-wage, and high-growth or emerging field.
  • Leverage and build on (1) existing structures, requirements, and resources of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act of 2006, California Partnership Academies, and Regional Occupational Centers and Programs; (2) the California Community Colleges Economic and Workforce Development Program; and (3) matching resources and in-kind contributions from public, private, and philanthropic sources.

Idea Bank for Proposals

The Linked Learning Alliance has developed an ‘idea bank’ of high-impact investment opportunities that reflect the priorities of the California Career Pathways Trust. It is by no means an exhaustive list, nor are the partners suggested for each idea meant to exclude others who may be relevant. Rather, it is meant to encourage creative thinking about proposals, and to focus attention on high impact, sustainable uses of these one-time monies.

Best Practices: Regional Consortia and Regional Partnership Models

One of the main priorities of the Trust is to:

“Establish or strengthen existing regional collaborative relationships and partnerships among business entities, schools serving pupils in kindergarten and grades 1 to 12, inclusive, and postsecondary educational agencies, organizations that provide apprenticeship opportunities, and nonprofit or government entities

Regional consortia and other partnership models can provide a coordinated strategy for meeting the priorities of the Trust and Linked Learning more broadly — funding work-based learning specialists, developing integrated college and career pathways, providing articulated pathways to postsecondary education and training, and leveraging existing resources and programs. Each element plays an important role in increasing student success and strengthening a region’s workforce. The resources below provide frameworks for thinking about the purpose, structure and benefits of regional partnerships formation:

Considerations for Building Successful Regional Partnerships: A Roadmap for Consortium Development
Based on an initial review of proposals from the first cycle of Career Pathways Trust grants, this resource is intended as a planning guide to support the field in development and continuous improvement of regional partnerships, and identifies a number of risks that can be mitigated if approached from an asset model orientation. While regional consortia are the unit of discussion in the document, most of the guidance provided is equally applicable to planning that occurs at a more localized level.

Building Successful Education/Workforce Partnerships
This fact sheet outlines two types of partnership models — a regional hub and a work-based learning intermediary — providing a quick visual of potential partners, activities, and benefits to each. It also includes examples of successful models of each from across the nation.

Work-Based Learning

While the Career Pathways Trust is intended to support a variety of pathway development and improvement efforts, work-based learning holds particular potential to transform practice in both educational and workforce development in California. The issue brief below provides additional information on why work-based learning is vital to effectively prepare students for success in college and 21st century careers.

Recommendations to Key Partners for Competitive Applications

As part of the first cycle of grants, the Linked Learning Alliance and members of its Leadership Council developed guidance letters with recommendations that leverage the unique opportunity provided by the California Career Pathways Trust to advance regional educational attainment and workforce preparation. Refer to the letters below for recommendations tailored to different audiences, or to craft your own outreach letter when engaging members of your community in a regional application.