$18.1M Workforce Grant Announced

$18.1M Workforce Grant Announced

  • June 9, 2022

Educational attainment in Kern County lags behind the statewide average. The region has among the largest share of residents lacking a high school degree or equivalent, and the smallest with a bachelor’s degree or higher. This education gap often equates to gaps in the available qualified workforce and in personal earning potential. Assistance is on the way.

Jesus Aguirre, a recent graduate of Bakersfield College’s LVN program, talks about how grant funding will benefit students.

It was announced at a celebration and media briefing on June 9, 2022 that the Kern Regional K-16 Education Collaborative has been awarded an $18.1M statewide competitive grant to support efforts that will improve student progress from high school to postsecondary education and ultimately into the workforce. As a result, Kern County residents and industry partners will benefit from new opportunities for upward economic mobility across the region.

The grant will fund numerous projects to streamline pathways in three occupational areas including health care, education, and engineering/computing, in addition to providing students with improved academic preparation for college access and success. The focus of grant funding will be on first-generation college students, those from low-income families, and students of color who statistics shows have a lower completion of A–G coursework necessary for admission to the CSU and UC.

“The Kern Regional K-16 Education Collaborative is excited to announce this award that will support students and parents through educational systems and into career opportunities,” said Kern County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Mary Barlow. “By streamlining specific K-16 pathways, we will remove barriers to educational success and improve educational attainment levels for Kern County students. The programs funded by this grant will ensure all students have equitable access to resources and opportunities.”

High-level goals of grant-funded programs include:

  1. Building and sustaining inclusive institutions that meet all students where they are
  2. Streamlining pathways to degrees
  3. Simplifying supports for student success

The Kern Regional K-16 Education Collaborative was proactively formed six months ago in anticipation of the release of this grant opportunity by blending the Kern Education Pledge consortium and A Better Bakersfield and Boundless Kern (B3K) consortium and adding additional strategic partners including UC Merced, UCLA, and the Central Valley Higher Education Consortium (CVHEC). The Collaborative also includes all 46 Kern County school districts, CSU Bakersfield, Kern Community College District, West Kern Community College District, Kern Economic Development Corporation, the County of Kern, and numerous economic development/industry partners.

Regional K-16 Education Collaborative members pose for a photo.

“The economic success of individuals, families, businesses and entire geographical areas correlates closely with educational attainment and the density of talent in a region,” Barlow added. “Kern County will not be able to achieve inclusive growth or decrease the number of struggling families without improving educational attainment through early college, dual enrollment, accelerated programs, certification programs, apprenticeships and traditional higher education.”

For more information about the Kern Education Pledge, visit www.kerneducationpledge.org.