Education leaders announced today that a partnership of agencies under the umbrella of the Central Coast K-16 Regional Collaborative has secured an $18.1 million grant over three years from California’s Community Economic Resilience Fund (CERF). The Collaborative aims to establish and expand career pathways, addressing longstanding equity gaps across a six-county region, encompassing Santa Cruz, San Benito, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura.
Under the leadership of UC Santa Cruz, Cabrillo College, UC Santa Barbara, and the Santa Cruz County Office of Education, the Central Coast K-16 Education Collaborative will strategically utilize the funding to support a data-
informed, equity-centered implementation phase. This phase will engage partners across the region, effecting transformative systemic changes to bridge educational inequities and dismantle structural barriers along the education-to-employment continuum, leading to high-skill, high-wage, high-demand regional employment across the region.
After comprehensive data analysis and collaboration with K-16 education organizations across the six-county region, the collaborative’s leadership identified three focal career sectors for the grant’s implementation: 1)
Engineering & Computer Science, 2) Health, and 3) Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Education.
Maria Rocha Ruiz, UC Santa Cruz Assistant Vice Chancellor of Educational Partnerships and Chief Campus Outreach Officer will serve as Principal Investigator for the award.
“The strength of this initiative lies in the unity of our coalition partners,” Principal Investigator Rocha-Ruiz emphasized. “With educators, community leaders, and industry experts working together we have an incredible opportunity to align our shared goals and forge lasting connections to make transformative, equity-centered
change across the region. Together, we will make sure every student in our region has access to the education, training, and resources they need to transition into a rewarding career.”
Cabrillo College will serve as the research and evaluation provider for the Central Coast K-16 Collaborative. Its responsibilities include overseeing completion of data sharing agreements with K16 Collaborative members, managing and analyzing data files, and establishing standardized assessment protocols and instruments for
“I am proud that Cabrillo College is an integral part of the Regional K-16 Education Collaborative grant,” said Dr. Matt Wetstein, President and Superintendent of Cabrillo College. “The state’s investment in the collaborative will result in robust, K-16 pathways that lead students to high-skill, high-wage, and high-demand regional
employment that boosts the economic viability of our region.”
The Santa Cruz County Office of Education (SCCOE) will serve as a convener of activities in the tri-county area of Santa Cruz, San Benito, and Monterey.
“The K-16 Collaborative is enabling deeper partnerships between TK-12, higher education, and industry in order to create clearer pathways between classroom and career,” said Dr. Faris Sabbah, Santa Cruz County Superintendent of Schools. “I am grateful for the engagement of the outstanding partners in our region,
with whom we will continue working closely to address systemic inequities and open the doors of opportunity to all youth on the Central Coast.”
This grant initiative, a regional component of a statewide strategy, aims to broaden educational and employment access for the 530,000 K-16 students across the Central Coast.
“A college degree should be an option for all of our region’s students, one that ultimately leads to a fulfilling, relevant, and livable-wage career that allows our students to stay in the region,” said Mario Castellanos, Executive Director of the Office of Education Partnerships at UCSB. “By working together with our regional, K-16 educational partners, we are making the college degree more achievable and more closely aligned with the demands of our local workforce.”
The Regional K-16 Education Collaborative grant program is made possible by a $250 million appropriation to the Department of General Services (Budget Act of 2021). The grant is administered by the California Department of General Services (DGS), Office of Public School Construction (OPSC) to support regional K-16
education collaborative and the Foundation for California Community Colleges is the third-party administrator.
California Governor Gavin Newsom said. “Every Californian should have the freedom to succeed by obtaining real-life skills and fulfilling careers — including those that don’t require college degrees. With today’s investment, California is yet again going further to prepare students and workers for high-paying, long-lasting,
and fulfilling careers.”