State grants $250 million for programs linking learning and careers

California officials announced Friday the recipients of $250 million in grants from a program to help students connect their academic learning to career opportunities, the largest such effort in the country.

Los Angeles Unified was among the winners and will receive up to $15 million in grants from the California Career Pathways Trust, a state collaboration with the Linked Learning Alliance, a nonprofit that works to promote these types of programs statewide. The program aims to forge connections between schools, community colleges, and employers in order to provide students with industry-related knowledge, skills and pathways toward careers.

The funding is to be used to launch programs linking academics, technical career knowledge and job experience to train students as future workers in fast-growing fields, state officials said.

Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg’s (D-Sacramento) said the state received about $700 million worth of applications for the grant dollars. He intends to seek more funding for the programs, he said.

“The needs are obvious. We can no longer afford a one-size-fits-all system and to separate the foundation of academics to the real world,” he said. “We have to make sure our kids are good students, but also make sure that they begin preparing for the work world.”

In L.A. Unified, programs are already offered at more than 10 high schools, including design and gaming programs at Hawkins High and multimedia, engineering and medical academies at Belmont High.

The programs bring work experience into the classroom instruction. For instance, at the STEM Academy of Hollywood on the Bernstein High campus, students enrolled in a healthcare program work as interns at Kaiser Permanente.