California Distributes $108.6 Million to Create Regional Education-to-Career Pipelines

California’s ground-breaking K-16 Education Collaboratives Grant Program will provide new pathways to career opportunities for students in their local communities, addressing longstanding equity challenges in higher education and workforce participation

SACRAMENTO – The Department of General Services (DGS), Office of Public School Construction, and the Foundation for California Community Colleges announced the first six awards – totaling $108.6 million – for the Regional K-16 Education Collaboratives Grant Program, as part of a $250 million investment in the 2021 Budget Act. This program is a key component of a statewide strategy for cultivating regional economies, strengthening education-to-career pathways, and ensuring that education, vocational, and workforce programs work in partnership to provide broader access for all to education and employment opportunities. “We’re creating new regional pipelines – K-12 schools to higher education to the workforce – for California’s students that will prepare our kids for the jobs of the future in their communities. This essential collaboration will help bridge equity gaps and provide more resources to help our students achieve their career goals right in their own communities,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. As communities across the state work to transform our public education system from cradle to career – scaling universal transitional kindergarten, expanding after-school programs, improving college access and affordability, and more – the regional collaboratives will serve to marshal action and promote implementation. Along with priorities such as the Community Economic Resilience Fund and Cradle-to-Career Data System, California is building partnerships and structures to ensure policies translate to on-the-ground improvements. “The Department of General Services is proud to be of assistance in administering this innovative program that will bring together regional partners to better serve all the learners of California, ensuring equitable pathways to meaningful careers,” said DGS Director Ana Lasso. “As the business manager of the state, DGS is excited to see the collaboration, system changes and enhancements that result from timely investment.” The first six awards of approximately $18.1 million each, for a total of $108.6 million, will be going to the following collaboratives (summaries of each collaborative can be found on the Regional K-16 Education Collaboratives Grant Program website):

  • Central San Joaquin Valley: Central San Joaquin Valley K16 Partnership (Fresno-Madera Collaborative & Tulare-Kings Collaborative). The Partnership brings together the Fresno-Madera Collaborative and Tulare-Kings College & Career Collaborative – with partners including the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools, State Center Community College District, Fresno State, and UC Merced – to develop four education to work pathways in health care, education, business management, and engineering / computing, with goals to increase the number of graduates with postsecondary degrees and certifications in these high wage disciplines, close equity gaps and economic disparities, and improve graduation rates and time-to-degree across all institutions.
  • North State: North State Together (Shasta Tehama Trinity Joint Community College District). North State Together (NST) brings together partners across the region – including the Shasta-Tehama-Trinity Joint Community College District, Shasta County Office of Education, CSU Chico, and UC Davis – to expand educational access, regional support networks, and cross-sector partnerships. They plan to increase college and career readiness, create occupational pathway programs in health care and education, and streamline transitions between educational institutions and the workforce.
  • Kern County: Kern Regional K16 Education Collaborative (Kern County Superintendent of Schools). The Kern K16 Regional Education Collaborative seeks to prepare students for the global economy by dismantling long-standing social and economic inequities in the region, removing barriers to student success, and improving educational outcomes. The collaborative brings together partners – including the Kern County Superintendent of Schools, Kern Community College District, CSU Bakersfield, and UC Merced – to develop pathways in health care, education, and engineering/computing with a focus on fostering inclusive institutions to better serve historically underrepresented students, streamline pathways to degrees and facilitate student transitions, and increase access to resources supporting basic, digital, and financial needs.
  • Redwood Coast: Redwood Coast K16 Education Collaborative (California State Polytechnic University Humboldt). The Redwood Coast Collaborative brings together partners across the region – California State Polytechnic University Humboldt, Sonoma State University, the Humboldt County Office of Education, Redwoods Community College District, UC Davis, and ProjectAttain! – to develop a robust college-going culture in the region by building career pathways for education and health care, specifically focused on increasing participation in and completion of A-G courses and improving retention rates in higher education, especially for Native American and socioeconomically disadvantaged students in the region.
  • Orange County: OC Pathways to and Through College and Career (Orange County Department of Education). OC Pathways aims to promote career and college readiness for students in the Orange County region by developing and expanding career education opportunities. This project brings together partners – the Orange County Department of Education, Rancho Santiago Community College District, Coast Community College District, South Orange County Community College District, North Orange County Community College District, CSU Fullerton, UC Irvine and Chapman University – to implement high-quality programs in education, health care, business management, and engineering/computing that offer career preparation and college credit attainment by leveraging regional work partnerships, decreasing institutional barriers, providing rigorous and relevant Career Technical Education courses, and college credit opportunities for all students.
  • Sacramento: Sacramento K16 Collaborative (Los Rios Community College District). The Sacramento Collaborative brings together partners throughout the region – including Los Rios Community College District, CSU Sacramento, UC Davis, and the Sacramento County Office of Education – to develop and expand career pathways for students in health care and engineering. They plan to invest in structures supporting preparation for college and transitions between educational institutions, develop a regional data sharing system, and provide targeted support to historically underserved students.

The program provides funding to enhance or create collaborative efforts between the University of California system, the California State University system, Community Colleges, K-12 School Districts, and workforce partners. Collaboratives participating in the program commit to creating two occupational pathways from the following sectors:

  • Health care
  • Education
  • Business management
  • Engineering or computing

Collaboratives must also commit to implementing four of seven recommendations pulled from the Recovery with Equity report to promote student success. The seven recommendations are:

  • Improve faculty, staff, and administrator diversity
  • Cultivate inclusive, engaging, and equity-oriented learning environment
  • Retain students through inclusive support
  • Provide high-tech, high-touch advising
  • Support college preparation and early credit
  • Subsidize internet access for eligible students
  • Improve college affordability

The program offers two phases for application submittal with the goal to award one grant within each of the 13 Community Economic Resilience Fund or CERF regions. The Department of General Services also intends to work with three other regions that submitted applications in this first funding phase to solicit supplemental information for a revised application with the hope to select a single, strong grantee for each region. There is also a second phase of funding available to regions that require additional time and planning to establish collaborative partners or to determine their program goals.

Bitwise Industries opens in downtown Merced, offering ‘life-changing opportunities in tech’

Bitwise Industries, a Central Valley technology company geared toward giving low-income residents an opportunity to get a tech-based education, opened the doors of its downtown Merced business hub this week. Bitwise Industries, which was founded in 2013 in Fresno, offers workspace for its members and leases out office suites. It also offers workforce training classes and tech consulting for local businesses. The new business hub is located at 1635 M St., on the corner of M Street and Main Street. “Bitwise Industries goes into underestimated communities and we build tech ecosystems using our three-pronged approach, which includes real estate — having a place and space — it also includes workforce training programs and tech consulting services,” said Norma Cardona, who is the vice president of Bitwise Industries in Merced.

The 6,500-square-foot office houses a co-working space that features tables and desks available for members. It’s designed for budding entrepreneurs and startup companies like a solo Realtor, online marketer or micro business owner. “People can come in, they’ll have a desk, they’ll have a chair, they’ll also have access to 20 free black and white copies and access to a conference room,” Cardona said. Memberships cost $40 per month with a student rate at $25 per month. The working space is set up for 40 members, but is currently being limited to about 20 to 25 members due to COVID-19 protocols. The working space is always open.

There are three office suites that are all currently leased out. There are two classrooms that hold 25 to 40 people. There are also three Bitwise suites, a conference room and a phone booth for private conversations. Bitwise Industries offers workforce training in Merced. Along with the office space, Bitwise also offers workforce training. “We offer life-changing opportunities in tech careers,” Cardona said. “We do that by offering evening classes or, as we call it, pre-apprenticeship classes that are stepping stones into a one year, full-time paid apprenticeship program, where we pay people to learn careers in tech.” The pre-apprenticeship classes are two nights per week and last six weeks. The classes offered include website for beginners, mobile website for beginners and JavaScript for beginners.

Students from these classes have the opportunity to earn one-year, paid internships with Bitwise Industries. The classes are designed to give people from marginalized communities — which includes people who formerly were incarcerated, formerly homeless, women, people from working-class families, the LGBTQ+ community and people of color — the opportunity to learn skills that could lead to tech jobs. Right now the classes are only offered remotely due to the pandemic. For more information on the workforce training, visit the Bitwise Industries website. Bitwise Industries also offers tech consulting for area businesses, including smaller restaurants that lacked websites and nonprofits that struggled to attract donors, according to Bitwise vice president Katherine Verducci. “Our tech consulting really helps up-level all the businesses that are in the area,” Verducci said.

Bitwise aims to create tech economy in Merced. Bitwise has opened hubs in places like Fresno and Bakersfield. Merced has similar characteristics and became a desired destination for the company. “We saw that there was high unemployment or underemployment, we saw that there was a high poverty rate,” Cardona said. “Actually one of the great things that we saw was UC Merced and the investment into downtown. So all those things are things we considered and we said, ‘we want to go into Merced.'” “We want to create that tech economy that is going to ignite transformations throughout the community,” Cardona added. “So people who are left out of opportunities, people who are surviving, people who are underemployed can really take advantage of these opportunities and get into a place of really thriving.”

Originally officials were eyeing an opening date in early 2021, but the pandemic delayed the opening. Cardona says Bitwise is thrilled to finally open its doors in downtown Merced. “We are so excited that we have this here now,” Cardona said. “A lot of people have been talking about it, a lot of people have heard about it, but it’s not until you see it in person, it’s not until you’re here that you’re really able to capture it and feel what Bitwise is all about.”

Rail Academy will train Valley youth for well-paying jobs on passenger, freight lines

Christian Sharma hopes to be among the first graduates of the Rail Academy of Central California, ready to work on a freight or passenger line. “I would mainly like to get behind the wheel of a locomotive,” the 18-year-old said at a May 25 open house in Stockton. “And help to maintain it, checking to see that it’s up to date.” The program will launch with about 70 students in August. They will take classes at a community college and get hands-on learning at the Stockton maintenance facility for the Altamont Corridor Express. The Rail Academy will provide up to two years of low-cost instruction for jobs starting at as much as $95,000 a year, the organizers said.

The alumni could help ACE and Amtrak carry out plans to grow well beyond their current passenger services. Or they could join a freight workforce that moves an already enormous volume of goods on the tracks. “In order for our expansion to be successful, we need the bodies to operate the trains, and to serve our public,” said Tamika Smith, director of rail services for the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission. That agency oversees ACE, which mainly serves commuters to Silicon Valley with four round trips each weekday. Amtrak has five round trips every day between Bakersfield and Oakland and a sixth branching north to Sacramento. AA Rail Academy 01.JPGPeople gathered at the Altamont Corridor Express maintenance facility for an open house to announce the creation of the Rail Academy of Central California in Stockton, Calif., on Wednesday, May 25, 2022. The program will launch in August, with classroom training at a community college and hands-on work at the ACE maintenance facility.
Stanislaus students, others welcome. The educational partners are based in San Joaquin and Sacramento counties, but students from Stanislaus and beyond are welcome, Smith said.

The academy will begin with classes at Sacramento City College that prepare students to be engineers, conductors and passenger service agents. The planners hope at some point to add degrees in train and track maintenance at San Joaquin Delta College. The ACE facility hosted the open house and will be a key part of the academy going forward. It is about a mile and a half north of a station serving both ACE and Amtrak. The staff mainly services the commuter trains but is also preparing a new fleet of Amtrak coaches. The 157,000-square-foot site has several tracks for locomotives and passenger coaches, along with pits for working on their undersides. Two training rooms can hold up to 60 students.

Students will pay community college fees but can apply for financial aid. The academy aims to reach underrepresented communities and students not headed toward bachelor’s degrees, Smith said. It also will help the freight and passenger partners replace employees lost to retirement, she said. AA Rail Academy 05.JPGPeople gathered at the Altamont Corridor Express maintenance facility for an open house to announce the creation of the Rail Academy of Central California in Stockton, Calif., on Wednesday, May 25, 2022. The program will launch in August, with classroom training at a community college and hands-on work at the ACE maintenance facility.

Head start for high-schoolers. The academy will have a program introducing high school students to rail careers through an agreement with the Stockton Unified School District. They will tour the maintenance facility and talk with rail workers. Sharma came to the open house on the evening before his graduation from Edison High School. He said he already enjoyed researching rail history from the steam era on and hopes to be part of the future workforce. That history is one of the community college courses, including the decline of passenger rail after World War II. Other classes will instruct students on safe and efficient operation of today’s trains. An entire course is devoted to the air brakes that can bring a mile-long freight train to a standstill.

The academy partners include Herzog Transit Services, which runs ACE under contract and is based in St. Joseph, Missouri. Another is the Union Pacific Railroad, based in Omaha and carrying freight across much of the United States. The Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway is not involved in the academy but is hiring, too, in the Central Valley and elsewhere. AA Rail Academy 04.JPGPeople gathered at the Altamont Corridor Express maintenance facility for an open house to announce the creation of the Rail Academy of Central California in Stockton, Calif., on Wednesday, May 25, 2022. The program will launch in August, with classroom training at a community college and hands-on work at the ACE maintenance facility.

Expanding toward high-speed rail. ACE and Amtrak are expanding with $900.5 million from state fuel taxes. Amtrak plans to add two trips on its northern branch by 2024, sharing stations with ACE in Lodi, Elk Grove and four Sacramento locations. ACE also will have a southern extension by 2024, with downtown stations in Manteca, Ripon, Modesto and Ceres. Service to Turlock, Livingston and Merced will follow in a few years. Future funding could bring hourly service at up to 130 mph, using tracks separate from freight trains and possibly a tunnel through the Altamont Pass. Valley residents would connect much more easily than they do now with BART and other systems.

The diesel locomotives would give way to renewable electricity under long-range plans for countering climate change. ACE and Amtrak also could connect in Merced with the first segment of California’s high-speed rail system. It would run at up to 220 mph to Bakersfield as soon as 2029 under current plans. The project continues to draw criticism due to cost overruns, construction delays and the high price of tunneling to Southern California and the Bay Area. The commission that oversees ACE is already negotiating to run the first leg of high-speed rail. It is chaired by Christina Fugazi, the vice mayor of Stockton. She also is vice principal at Edison High and invited some of the local students to the open house. “If we want to do more trains per day, we need more conductors, we need more engineers, we need more people to clean the trains, maintain the trains,” Fugazi said.

AA Rail Academy 02.JPGTechnicians Sebastian Eth, left, and Nick Fortune, right, demonstrate some of the work that is done at the Altamont Corridor Express maintenance facility during an open house to announce the creation of the Rail Academy of Central California in Stockton, Calif., on Wednesday, May 25, 2022. The program will launch in August, with classroom training at a community college and hands-on work at the ACE maintenance facility. AA Rail Academy 03.JPGAltamont Corridor Express maintenance facility in Stockton, Calif., on Wednesday, May 25, 2022. AA Rail Academy 06.jpgChristina Fugazi, chair of the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission board, speaks to guests, with Edison High senior Christian Sharma, right, during an open house to announce the creation of the Rail Academy of Central California in Stockton, Calif., on Wednesday, May 25, 2022. The program will launch in August, with classroom training at a community college and hands-on work at the ACE maintenance facility.

Rail Academy of Central California to Launch This Fall

The San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission’s (SJRRC) ACE Rail Maintenance Facility will house the new Rail Academy of Central California (TRACC), which is seeking 70 students for instruction and hands-on-training. An open house was held earlier this month to generate interest and attract talent, according to SJRRC, the owner, operator and policy-making body for Altamont Corridor Express(ACE), which comprises an 86-mile corridor between Stockton and San Jose with 10 stations (see map below). Federal, state and local officials; railroad industry stakeholders; and prospective students and their families were in attendance.

TRACC’s aim is to address workforce shortages “by creating opportunities for meaningful careers for students and graduates that directly enhance the region’s economic growth and ensure both passenger and freight railroad reliability,” SJRRC reported on May 25. “Estimated starting salaries for graduates range from $35,000 to $95,000 per year.”

TRACC will draw students from San Joaquin County-area high schools, and will accept trainees over 18 years of age participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); and Women, Infants and Children (WIC); as well as veterans and military spouses. Sacramento City College will provide the curriculum and two instructors. “We were honored to host the greater San Joaquin County community to raise awareness about this important workforce development program and generate interest from our community,” SJRRC Chair Christina Fugazi said. “We must do more to provide real economic and wealth generation opportunities for families in Stockton and the surrounding area.”

Bakersfield launches first-of-its-kind youth workforce program as part of state effort

For the first time ever, the city of Bakersfield will be offering internships and job opportunities tailored for local teenagers and college students in an attempt to spur interest in local government and address relatively high youth unemployment. Starting Friday, the city plans to release applications for summer internships, which will be available to local high school students. Other programs in its workforce development program include a yearlong college fellowship, an eight-week parks mobile team and another internship program based on the needs of the Kern Community Foundation and the Dream Resource Center. The city successfully applied for a roughly $5.4 million Californians For All Workforce Development grant, which will provide funds for the new positions. “The city’s No. 1 goal here is to get youth interested in public service and community service. We have a number of jobs here at the city of Bakersfield that are open, and it’s really an exciting time to work for the city of Bakersfield thanks to Measure N and many of the new initiatives that the city is starting,” said Anthony Valdez, assistant to the city manager. “We want to inspire this generation to be interested in public service.”

The Kern Community Foundation will manage the program for the city, and plans to expand from four to eight employees in order to handle the workload. The local nonprofit plans to target underserved areas and those who have had run-ins with the criminal justice system in its outreach. “We’re going to be giving these youngsters opportunities to look at maybe careers that they didn’t think about and things that are going to benefit the city in general,” said foundation President and CEO Aaron Falk. “I wish that in high school somebody had pulled me aside and said, ‘Did you know you can get an associate’s degree from BC and then get a six-figure job?’ I don’t think anybody is telling kids that.” The workforce development program comes at a time of high youth unemployment in Bakersfield. According to data provided by the city, teenagers aged 16 to 19 had a 25.6 percent unemployment rate in 2020, the most recent year for which data was available. Those aged 16 and over had a 7.6 percent unemployment rate in Bakersfield, compared to a statewide rate of 6.2 percent and a national rate of 5.4 percent. “The need is high to engage and employ youth and also get them excited about public and community service,” Valdez said. “We want youth to be inspired from Bakersfield to stay in Bakersfield and see themselves in careers and community and public service jobs that pay well, are stable and come with great benefits.”

The state’s 13 biggest cities were eligible to receive funding, but smaller cities and counties will also become involved in the project’s second phase. State leaders hope to tackle some of the most difficult issues facing California while providing youth with job opportunities and a career pathway to government service, in addition to at least a $15 per hour wage. Many of the new jobs across the state will focus on issues like climate change, homelessness and food insecurity. The $185 million program, paid for by federal coronavirus relief money, is expected to employ thousands of youth over the next several years. “We think what’s unique is that we are really focusing on a population that has either been excluded or doesn’t have these kinds of opportunities,” said Josh Fryday, California’s chief service officer, a position in the governor’s office. “We think that by focusing on that population and really making sure that we’re doing work that is focused on the community, that we’re doing something that is going to add value to everyone.”

The city hopes to hire 400 youth by 2026, when the program will have completed. “We have the opportunity to demonstrate that by investing in our young people, we can help them launch a meaningful and purposeful life, while also tackling our biggest issues,” Fryday said. “If we can do all of that together at the same time, I think we’re going to demonstrate a really important model for this work moving forward.”

New $28 Million Arts Center Breaks Ground at Reedley College

A dusty corner of the Reedley College campus was the focus of great excitement Wednesday morning with the groundbreaking ceremony for the new McClarty Center for Fine and Performing Arts. Harold McClarty, owner of HMC Farms, said that when he was asked why his family was making a significant donation to the project, his response was that “there’s nothing more important than music and art. It makes you human. It’s what we’re all about.” Reedley College, one of the Valley’s oldest campuses, has music and art in its curriculum but has lacked a place to showcase the work of students, faculty, and the community. That’s going to change with the opening of the McClarty Center, President Jerry Buckley said.

The 24,000-square-foot center in the northeast corner of campus off Reed Avenue will be a state-of-the-art facility, with features not found in other Valley performing centers, said Robert Petithomme, managing principal of Darden Architects, the center’s designer. He said the McClarty Center will draw audiences from all over. Celebrating the groundbreaking of an arts and music center seems especially timely now, State Center Chancellor Carole Goldsmith said. Reedley College is one of four colleges in the State Center Community College District.“If anything, these last two years of having been shuttered and in our homes, and now as we’re facing incredible turmoil globally, it’s really the arts, it’s the ability to come together and sing, and dance, that bring us together as humans, that bring us together in love,” she said. “And Reedley College now will have a place for our students and our community to come together and do just that, to celebrate life.” The McClarty Center will include the 500-seat Pete Peters Theatre, a secured art gallery, green room, conference room, concessions and an event gathering space. The project is estimated to cost $28 million.

Madera Community College offers new wine-making class

MADERA, Calif. (KFSN) — Madera Community College is taking action to introduce students to a new career path. The college is offering a new wine-making class to students. Madera Community College sophomore Rocky Beckett says he’s used to life on the farm, but says he wanted a taste of something new.”Growing up, my family farmed grapes and almonds and stuff,” explained Beckett. “In our Central Valley, grapes and wine is a big industry, so it’s nice to know the process of different irrigation methods for grapes, different harvesting methods and all that, ” added Beckett.

He was eager to enroll in Madera Community College’s first-ever viticulture class. The nine-week class kicks off March 14 and will cover everything from vine care to the wine-making process. “For this class, students will be learning the general ins and outs when it comes to growing grapes as well as processing grapes, what it means to the industry and what it takes to grow it,” said Madera Community College Agriculture Instructor Elizabeth Mosqueda. Most importantly, it will highlight the processes specific to the Central Valley. “Get a general idea of what it takes here in Madera County to grow grapes and why it’s important to our industry,” added Mosqueda. Setting students like Beckett up for success. “It would be nice to be a farm manager for a big corporation one day,” added Beckett. “Just knowing all this info may help me in the long run.”

Fresno State to lead dairy innovation project with $1.8M USDA grant

The push to develop new products in the nation’s leading dairy state is also the impetus behind a new, three-year $1.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Marketing Service aimed at dairy business innovation. Graduate student Daniel Olmos is channeling his love of science and food to integrate two of his favorite campus farm products into his graduate research project.

Working with food science and nutrition faculty Dr. Carmen Licon Cano, the Fresno-native Olmos is creating a new, wine-infused cheese product that he hopes to produce at the campus creamery for the Gibson Farm Market, and later potentially on a larger scale. “When you try to produce cheese and wine, there is a fair bit of chemistry and microbiology to consider,” Olmos said. “An infused cheese like this is an artisanal product that you might see produced in Spain or other parts of the world, so it’s exciting to consider its potential here. Dairy products are exciting to work with since they’re very functional, nutritious and delicious.”

Licon will work with Dr. Susan Pheasant, director of the Institute for Food and Agriculture at Fresno State, to coordinate a program that will position students, faculty, staff and campus facilities to support industry partners in California, Oregon and Washington to launch a newly-created Pacific Coast Coalition for dairy processors.

Fresno State, UC Merced ranked high on lists of nation’s best colleges. What to know

Fresno State, Fresno Pacific, and UC Merced are among the nation’s best universities in social mobility, according to U.S. News and World Report’s new 2022 college rankings. For this year’s rankings, the organization looked at the percentage of Pell Grant students who enter each university and the 6-year graduation rate of those students. Students eligible for Pell Grants are typically from low-income households. UC Merced ranked no. 4 on the list, with 62% of its fall 2013/2014 cohort Pell Grant-eligible, and 68% graduate within six years.

Fresno Pacific University, a private Christian university, earned a spot at no. 13. Fresno State ranked no. 21 — tying with UCLA — with 69% of Pell Grant receivers entering its fall 2013/2014 classes and 52% graduating within six years. Fresno Pacific also ranked no. 41 in regional universities in the west. Fresno State also earned the no. 53 spot on the list of best undergraduate engineering programs where a doctorate isn’t offered. The university earned no. 13 in the civil engineering category, no. 16 in electrical/electronic/communications, and no. 24 in mechanical, tying with several other schools. UC Merced moved up a few spots this year, tying at No. 93 in the national universities category, No. 38 in top public schools, and No. 57 in most innovative schools. It earned a No. 8 spot for the economic diversity of its students. The newest UC earned a few other spots, including tying for No. 58 in best undergraduate teaching and ranking no. 129 in best value schools.

Last year, UC Merced tied with UCLA and UC Irvine to earn the No. 1 spot for best student outcomes. The university has ran up the ranks in the last few years, improving in many categories, said Chancellor Juan Sánchez Muñoz. “This confirms yet again that what we do at UC Merced is making an impact on the world and greatly improving the lives of young people,” said Sánchez Muñoz. “Our reputation is solidly grounded in our world-class research and teaching, in the amazing students who join us every year and the successful alumni who tell our story.” This year Fresno State fell two slots to earn the No. 211 spot in the overall national ranking. It also fell in the category of top public schools, ranking No. 107 this year and 101 last year.

Now in its 37th year, U.S. World and News Report’s rankings evaluate more than 1,400 colleges and universities on up to 17 measures of academic quality, according to the organization.

Assemblyman Salas secures $6 million for Bakersfield College health education programs

Bakersfield College has reason to celebrate this week after getting word that the local community college will receive an additional $6 million in state funding secured by Assemblymember Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield. According to twin news releases from BC and Salas’ office, the funding will help the college expand and implement workforce training programs related to nursing and health care.

The funding comes in addition to $44.4 million Salas secured this year for a range of Central Valley projects and educational investments, Salas’ office said. “I am happy to champion more money coming to Bakersfield College,” Salas stated in the releases. “This additional $6 million will help train more nurses and health professionals for the valley so that our local families will have greater health access and options.” The funding is authorized in Assembly Bill 132, the higher education budget bill, which was signed Tuesday by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

According to BC’s release, the projects proposed will include expanding the college’s Rural Health Equity and Learning collaborative, the Certified Nursing Assistant and Registered Nurse programs, and the allied health programs such as the new Physical Therapy Assistant program, while also providing funding for new post-pandemic student health and wellness services, and new certification programs, such as the Mental Health Worker Certificate. Sonya Christian, Kern Community College District Chancellor and past president of Bakersfield College, lauded Salas for his continued support of BC and higher education. “Assemblymember Rudy Salas makes things happen and his work embodies keeping the #ValleyStrong,” Christian said in a statement.

The college has been able to scale up several programs thanks to some $22 million in funding Salas has secured for BC in recent years, Christian said. “His continued commitment to career education directly supports students in ways that matter to their futures, health and success,” she said. Bakersfield College will use the direct $6 million investment for the following programs:

• Expanding the Rural Health Equity and Learning collaborative.

• Expanding the certified nursing assistant and registered nurse programs.

• Providing nursing scholarships for students who volunteered to serve in vaccination clinics.

• Expanding the Allied Health Simulation Laboratory.

• Expanding the radiology technology mammography and sonography programs.

• Adding the Mental Health Worker Certificate.

• Adding postpandemic student health and wellness services.

• Providing educational services to prevent chronic illness among at-risk rural residents.

AB 132 also provides an unprecedented $47.1 billion statewide investment in college affordability and access including:

• $115 million for Zero-Textbook-Cost Degree grant programs and open educational resources at community colleges to help address the rising costs of textbooks.

• $100 million to create Basic Needs Centers to help homeless and food insecure students access resources and enroll in CalFresh.

• $100 million for community colleges to increase student retention rates and enrollment.

• $2 billion to address housing and space needs at the UC, CSU and community colleges.

• Provides $20 million for CCCs to establish and expand High Road Training Partnerships and Construction Careers workforce development programs.

• Provides $6,000 per student in non-tuition support for Cal Grant students who are former foster youth.

• Expands the California Kids Investment and Development Savings Program to provide $500 base deposits to college savings accounts for public school students from low-income families, English learners and foster youth.

• Establishes the Learning-Aligned Employment program to help underrepresented students with financial need gain relevant work experience, promoting long-term employment opportunities.

• Establishes the Golden State Education and Training Grant Program to provide grants for education or high-quality training for workers displaced by the pandemic.

• Authorizes community colleges to use federal emergency relief funds to waive student fees for students who have unpaid fees due to impacts of COVID-19.