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Our Golden Moment Has Arrived: $470 Million in College and Career Prep Funds Released to School Communities Across California

June 3, 2024

Last Friday afternoon, two years of advocacy for California’s young people came to fruition with the release of $470 million to 302 local educational agencies (LEAs) preparing to deliver powerful, career-integrated, college-preparatory learning as part of the historic Golden State Pathways Program (GSPP).

$422 million of these funds take the form of implementation grants to fuel the work of school districts and other local education agencies as they develop college and career pathways that equitably prepare young people for success in high-wage, high-growth fields including technology, healthcare, education, and climate. The remaining dollars have been awarded as consortium development and planning grants, which support the program partnerships across education segments and industry that are vital to the creation of highly relevant learning experiences known to open eyes and opportunities for young people.

As a result, GSPP will expand and strengthen high school approaches like Linked Learning, which seamlessly blend rigorous college preparation with career technical learning for students of all abilities—providing them with a full range of experiences and support so they can choose college or career or both after graduating high school. Decades of Linked Learning practice show that this inclusive, supportive approach to learning pays off in academic achievement and the workforce skills and mindsets employers seek.

When GSPP was announced in 2022, we celebrated it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to scale the educational practices proven to help young people—especially those facing serious inequities—thrive into college and good-paying jobs. But we knew that none of it was a given without steadfast action and attention.

Since then, we’ve seen educators, employers, students, and families, as well as Governor Newsom, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, President of the State Board of Education Linda Darling Hammond, and other champions among our education officials stand up to protect this historic funding and prepare to build on previous educational investments and innovations. As a result, these dollars are now flowing into school communities across California to significantly expand possibilities for adolescents at a crucial time in their development—and our economic future.

GSPP is a cornerstone of the governor’s Master Plan for Career Education, which aims to align and simplify the TK–12, university, and workforce systems in California to support greater access to education and jobs for all Californians.

California counties receiving this influx of funds for one or more LEAs span the demographic, geographic, and economic diversity of the state and include: Alameda, Butte, Colusa, Contra Costa, Del Norte, El Dorado, Fresno, Glenn, Humboldt, Imperial, Kern, Kings, Lake, Lassen, Los Angeles, Madera, Mariposa, Mendocino, Merced, Monterey, Napa, Nevada, Orange, Plumas, Riverside, Sacramento, San Benito, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Francisco, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity, Tulare, Tuolumne, Ventura, Yolo, and Yuba.

The Linked Learning Alliance is thrilled to see so many communities across the state committed to transforming our educational systems, meaningfully engaging our young people, and developing the workforce of tomorrow.

Implementing the GSPP has been a long time coming—but we’re ready. California has a history of bringing K–12 education, postsecondary institutions, and industry together for the good of our state and its people. We have the will, the know-how, and the resources. These funds will accelerate progress toward our shared goals for educational attainment and workforce demand by investing in young people on their journey from learning to life. This is our state’s golden opportunity.

Congratulations, awardees—now, let’s get to work!