– August 31, 2015

Expanding and Sustaining Career Pathways for Youth

Career Pathways. Linked Learning. Workforce Development. These related approaches by education and social service agencies address a core need for low-income youth of color: access to preparation for good careers.

To make progress on key issues of health, education, and community empowerment, we need to improve access to well-paying jobs for young people of color. African American youth aged 16-24 are more than twice as likely to be unemployed or underemployed than their white peers, keeping generations stuck in poverty.

Here in the backyard of Google and Twitter, young people of color struggle with multiple barriers to earning a decent living, including racism, lack of educational preparation, limited social networks, lack of transportation, and health challenges. These complex causes require targeted and well-coordinated solutions.

This is a moment of great opportunity, with multiple initiatives underway in Oakland to improve youth career preparation. The JPA can have a materially positive impact in a number of ways, including:

  • Helping to meet increased demand for corporate, government, and nonprofit partners to provide internships and related learning experiences.
  • Improving access to career pathway programs for youth in alternative education, juvenile justice, and dropouts.
  • Ensuring that these many investments of funding, time, and expertise result in sustainable, effective programs that make a long-term difference on young people’s futures.

Here are some recent career pathway bright spots:

  • Oakland a center for Linked Learning: Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) has been a leader for years in Linked Learning, which are high school programs that combine pre-college curricula with industry-based experience and mentoring. Many high schools have offered curricula and experiences based in specific industries (health and biotech, law, media and communications), such as award-winning high school Life Academy of Health and Bioscience. OUSD is one of only nine participating districts in the statewide California Linked Learning District Initiative, which provides funding and support to improve and expand programs.
  • Measure N: This ballot measure passed by a wide margin in Oakland in 2014, provides over $12 million a year to expand Linked Learning programs to all high schools in the city, and demonstrates strong public support for career pathways.
  • Major foundations commit millions for healthcare career pathways: The Atlantic Philanthropies and the California Endowment have committed over $12 million in grants to Oakland Unified and the Alameda Health Care Services Agency to support and expand health career pathways in Oakland, with the goal of improving academic and long-term employment outcomes.
  • Intel grant and coding organizations: In May 2015, the Intel Corporation announced a $5 million grant to Oakland Unified to expand computer science pathway programs and help diversify the tech workforce, even guaranteeing Intel jobs for successful graduates. Further in recent years, a number of nonprofits teaching computer coding to young people of color have begun offering services in Oakland, including #YESWECODE, Black Girls Code, and Hack the Hood, increasing interest in opportunity for young people to enter the technology field.  
  • Opportunity Youth Initiative: Alameda County – Oakland is one of 21 sites nationally to receive funding and other supports from the Aspen Institute Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund to develop and align onramps to pathway programs that connect youth to support services, education, and training.
  • Partnerships between education and industry: The East Bay Career Pathways Consortium brings together school districts, community colleges, the Alameda County Office of Education, Workforce Investment Boards, and business partners to reshape our K-14 educational system around career pathways, supported by funding from the CA Department of Education for career pathways.

All these efforts are highly positive and exciting, which is why it is critical that leaders from the different public sectors – city, county, and school district – work effectively together to ensure that policies and resources support these programs to make the greatest possible impact on youth and families. Please watch this site for news on career pathways, and sign up for our newsletter to receive more information.

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– August 25, 2015

All In to End Poverty in Alameda County

In 2014, Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan, a member of the JPA Board, responded to the dramatic growth in poverty in Alameda County by launching All in Alameda, a “new war on poverty.” While the nation has been recovering from the Great Recession, many have still not found a way out of poverty. Currently California has the nation’s highest poverty rate at 23.8 percent, and our county reflects that trend. In recent years, the number of children in Oakland living in poverty has grown from 18 to 29 percent.

All in Alameda is a multi-pronged, long-term effort to address critical elements of economic security including nutrition, education, employment, housing, transportation and child care. To ensure a significant impact, initial efforts are focused on jobs, early childhood education, and food security.

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More recently, the County has begun a sustained effort to solve hunger, All in to End Hunger 2020. Currently 1 in 5 County residents are served by the Alameda County Food Bank and 1 in 3 children face the threat of hunger. The initiative focuses on food system inefficiencies, public policy reforms, economic development, and community involvement. These efforts require new levels of collaboration between public and private sector agencies. Supervisor Chan’s experience in these county initiatives will inform our work at the JPA.


 

 

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