Youth participating in our program attend Sueños academies where they develop fundamental workplace skills, including basic workplace math and reading skills, interviewing skills, career exploration, goal setting, resume writing, job searching, and financial planning.
The program currently supports two academies, and both are staffed by certified teachers, certified guidance counselors, work placement coordinators, and career mentors:
- Hospitality, Tourism, and Customer Service (HTCS) Academy
- Agriculture Academy
Both academies are powerful tools for developing “expanded student learning opportunities…that lead to successful preparation for the world of work and higher education opportunities” (County Superintendent’s Goal 3.2a).
Sueños academies have been serving youth in Santa Cruz County since 2000, collaborating on many projects to enrich career and academic development for youth, providing “support to students who are unsuccessful in comprehensive programs by developing partnerships and creating programs that address service gaps” (County Superintendent’s Goal 3.4b).
This collaboration has resulted in successful career mentoring, internships, job shadowing, and general work experience, all of which have contributed to the achievement of individual goals set by the youth participants.
Hospitality, Tourism, and Customer Service (HTCS) Academy
Sueños Program partnered with the Seaside Company of Santa Cruz to create an industry-driven certification curriculum that provides participants with training that will prepare them for just about any entry-level position.
Although designed primarily to support career paths related to hospitality, tourism, and customer service, the HTCS Academy develops knowledge, understanding, and competency of accepted industry employment requirements. In this eight week (four hours/week) academy, participants receive instruction on:
- Principles of customer service
- Cashiering/money handling and general fiscal literacy
- Occupational safety and best practices
- Communication and presentation skills
- Job Search skills (résumé writing, interviewing)
- Work experience placements (internships)
Participants can also avail themselves of up to $150 in incentives. Upon completion of the academy coursework and internship, receive 5 (five) high school elective credits and HTCS certification. They also will have gained sufficient training and work experience to enter the local workforce in a variety of career paths, including professional services, retail, healthcare, and, of course, hospitality.
The Agriculture Academy and its curriculum is the result of a partnership with Lakeside Organic Gardens, the largest family-owned and operated solely-organic vegetable grower/shipper in the US, and offers participants an opportunity to explore and prepare for careers in agriculture, the largest industry in Watsonville. The perception of careers in agriculture has lost its glamour over the years, but that is why the academy exists – to give young people an opportunity to see that agriculture is so much more than just picking lettuce and strawberries.
Students who enroll in the academy will begin a twelve-week course (four hours/week) where they learn about:
- Soil science
- Pest management
- Weed management
- Differences between conventional and organic farming
Participants will then apply what they learn in class through managing and growing their own personal farm. They also explore different career pathways through field trips, workshops, and presentations. Additionally, they gain hands-on work experience through paid internships at one of our authorized worksites.
Participants can also avail themselves of up to $150 in incentives. Upon graduating from the academy, participants receive Agriculture Academy certification and exit with a solid understanding of how to comfortably manage a small farm, in addition to having established new relationships in the community to help them secure a job in agriculture.