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$500k grant to jump start career training

By: Staff report
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Folsom Lake College, in collaboration with several El Dorado County partners, has been awarded $500,000 in continued funding under the Governor’s Career Technical Education Initiative (SB 70/SB 1133), to raise the awareness of “middle skill” career opportunities among 6th through 12th grade students in El Dorado County schools. Middle skill careers are those that require some post-baccalaureate training (a certificate or AA/AS degree), but may not necessarily require a Bachelor’s degree. In conjunction with several El Dorado County partner businesses, agencies and organizations (including the El Dorado County Office of Education, the El Dorado Union High School District, the Black Oak Mine Unified School District, Lake Tahoe Community College, P.G. & E., SMUD, the El Dorado Irrigation District, Sierra Pacific Industries, the Apple Hill Growers Association, the United States Forest Service, fire fighting agencies, local child care businesses, wineries, hotels, and rafting companies) the grant will place 6th through 12th grade teachers in paid summer externships at jobs related to three industry sectors: Natural Resources, Early Childhood Education, and the Travel, Hospitality and Tourism industry. After learning first-hand the job skills required to work in these various industries, the teachers will create contextual lessons they will share with their students to inform them about local job opportunities and the skills necessary to acquire these jobs. Four college faculty members will also work on creating and implementing a general education course on sustainability at the college level and integrating the concepts of sustainability into other existing courses across the disciplines. An earlier round of SB 70 funding, commencing in September 2008, provided $469,000 for these efforts. The current round of grant funding will provide $500,000 over the next 18 months to continue and expand these efforts. Besides the externships, activities proposed under the grant include putting on two local job fairs for middle- and high-school students, one focused on “green technology” jobs and the other on more general local career opportunities. The grant will also fund 32 competitive “mini-grants” for project proposals by local 6th through 12th grade teachers with a sustainability theme. FLC’s Early Childhood Education program will benefit from grant funding to create and enhance a “program of study” that will streamline students’ paths in this discipline from high school to community college to 4-year schools. In conjunction with El Dorado Union High School District, grant funding will allow FLC to assist with creation of a “work readiness certificate” that will insure that graduating HS students have acquired the “soft skills” (like customer service, effective interpersonal communication, and teamwork) that are in such demand from employers, regardless of their industry. Finally, the grant will provide funding for a pilot program with two El Dorado County middle schools to train their students to conduct “building performance audits” using sophisticated metering devices to determine how efficiently an existing building’s heating, ventilation, cooling, lighting and insulation systems are performing and how that performance can be improved. “We view this grant as a tremendous opportunity to make El Dorado County students more aware of the range of potential career opportunities available to them, not only in their own backyard, but also regionally and nationally,” said Dale van Dam, El Dorado Center site dean and grant director. “In addition to implementing this grant, we think we’ve created a consortium of community partners that will be able to pursue other local funding opportunities that will benefit El Dorado County students in the future.” “We’ve been thrilled to work closely with a broad range of community partners on the previous round of the grant, and we think what we’ve proposed for the second round is even more exciting and has the potential to impact more students,” said Jim Hall, the grant coordinator. “Folsom Lake College is very pleased to help spearhead this collaborative effort. This grant will have an impact on the communities of our region for many years into the future,” added Folsom Lake College President Thelma Scott-Skillman. A member of the Los Rios Community College District, Folsom Lake College serves approximately 9,000 students at the main Folsom campus, El Dorado Center, and Rancho Cordova Center. For more information on Folsom Lake College, please visit www.flc.losrios.edu.