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San Joaquin A+ Announces $650K in Planning Grants for Three New Early College High School Programs

San Joaquin A+ Announces $650K in Planning Grants
for Three New Early College High School Programs

Grant awards will fuel partnerships involving San Joaquin County Office of Education, San Joaquin Delta College, Stanislaus County Office of Education, Modesto Junior College, and Aspire Vanguard School


Stockton, CA [1/12/21] – Today, San Joaquin A+ (SJA+) is announcing the award of three planning grants, totaling $650,000 to local partners with plans to start early college high school programs. The grantees include San Joaquin County Office of Education in a partnership with SJ Delta College for a school focused on teacher preparation; a partnership between Stanislaus County Office of Education and Modesto Junior College to start an agricultural-focused program; and Aspire Vanguard School and Modesto Junior College to plan an early college high school focused on health career pathways. The Early college high school model was established in 2002 in order to increase the opportunity for traditionally underrepresented youth to earn a postsecondary degree and/or credential by beginning their college credits while still in high school. The benefits are well-documented.

“We are extremely grateful for the opportunity to work with this group of local leaders and respected institutions to support their exciting plans” shared Don Shalvey, CEO of San Joaquin A+. “It is critical that we align Stockton’s education programming with the good jobs that not only can serve as an anchor for our economy going forward, but also will provide meaningful work and a family sustaining income for young people growing up across our region.”

The grant opportunities are being awarded after an application process that began in early 2020, with the help of local partners like the Stanislaus Community Foundation. San Joaquin A+ convened a group of partners from across the region who expressed interest in starting or expanding early college high school programs, with a focus on a career pathway in an area of local need. With technical assistance from Jobs for the Future (JFF) a national nonprofit with expertise in this area, the teams developed and submitted applications, before three that were most ready for implementation by the 2021 or 2022 school year were ultimately selected. If this initial wave of applicants is successful, SJA+ will consider a similar process in the future to support more school districts, county offices, and local non-profits.

“Working with Modesto JC, San Joaquin A+, and our other partners in the early stages of this process has been energizing,” said Jeff Albritton, Assistant Superintendent at Stanislaus County Office of Education. “This partnership will allow us not only to create a program in an area of local need, but has also allowed us to think more deeply about our goals. We believe it will help us bring a rigor and a sense of possibility to our plans that will result in a great school, and ultimately in better life outcomes for our students.”

The partnership between Stanislaus COE and Modesto JC plans to create an Agricultural Pathway at the existing Valley Charter school in Modesto. This grant will allow the partners to redesign the existing Stanislaus COE chartered school to add this critical pathway that aligns with Modesto JC’s nationally recognized Agriculture and Environmental Sciences Division. By developing a seamless 4-5 year high school program that matriculates students directly into MJC’s programs, it will place students on a track for success.

“We’ve seen the benefit our agriculture and science programs have for young people in our college,” added Don Borges, Dean of Agriculture & Environmental Sciences at Modesto JC. “We believe this partnership will provide us with the opportunity to broaden our reach to more students who normally might not think of this career path. And not only that, but by starting them earlier, we can create even stronger pathways into the profession for them and help them complete our program at a lower cost.”

Education is another growth industry in the Central Valley, which has informed the plan by the San Joaquin County Office of Education and SJ Delta College to create an educator preparation early college high school, tentatively called TEACH! Academy. In this high school program, students will be dually enrolled in the TEACH! Academy, as well as SJDC, and coursework will be designed to meet the UC A-G requirements. Students will have the potential to earn a minimum of 30 units or graduate with an AA degree, with requirements in the intended course of study for students planning to transfer to a CSU, UC and most private universities.

“Teacher preparation is not just something we are passionate about as educators ourselves, but it is also an employment area of great need in our county,” said Dr. Troy Brown, San Joaquin County Office of Education Associate Superintendent and incoming County Superintendent of Schools. “Because of that need, preparing more teachers for the classroom has been a top priority of County Superintendent of Schools James Mousalimas. In 2018-19, we had the fifth highest number of requests in the state for intern credentials, permits and waivers due to the teacher shortage. We hope this new partnership and school can help change that reality, while over time putting thousands of young people on a path to a meaningful and good paying career.”

A partnership focused on health professions between Aspire Vanguard College Preparatory School and Modesto JC also addresses a growing area of need locally. Aspire Vanguard is a college preparatory charter school located in West Modesto that serves a high need student population. The school has an existing partnership with Modesto JC, but will use this planning grant to introduce this career readiness component with a focus on the health profession, that will help students acquire more credits and be better prepared to move directly into health focused majors in college programs.

“We believe this more-focused, rigorous program will bring coherence to our partnership with Modesto Junior College and provide students with a direct pathway into a rewarding profession that will be in high demand locally for years to come,” added Jacob Weiler, principal of Aspire Vanguard College Preparatory Academy. “Further, we think this program will benefit our broader community in a number of ways: it will address a critical shortage of well-trained healthcare workers, it will leverage experiential learning in the local healthcare landscape to increase the likelihood our students choose to stay here to launch and sustain their careers, and it will advance the cause of justice by expanding “opportunity access” among young people from historically marginalized communities.”

More details about each of these programs will be available in the coming weeks. San Joaquin A+ plans to host a webinar to allow these leaders to talk more about their plans. To learn more generally about why San Joaquin A+ is focused on building ladders to good jobs in our region, see an existing report and webinar here.

About San Joaquin A+:
San Joaquin A+ is a group of educators, business leaders, active citizens and philanthropists. Collectively, the organization has supported education since 1996 and has almost a quarter century of experience and commitment to Stockton and SJ County. In order to create a system of great schools in our county, San Joaquin A+ collaborates with local families, education, and workforce partners to set a vision for how our community can prepare students to be successful and responsible citizens.

Contact: Admin@sjaplus.org for questions.