The CTE Foundation, which supports the field of Career and Technical Education, announced on Feb. 22 that it is awarding $101,150 in grants to support 14 Sonoma County education programs, the goal being to “increase student engagement and connect classroom learning to real-world careers during the 2023-2024 school year.”
A $15,000 grant to Technology High School’s internships program topped the list. Three grants were awarded of $12,500 each, followed by an $11,400 grant to Healdsburg High’s SkillsUSA Career and Technical Student Organizations (CTSO), a program managed by culinary teacher Derek Corsino, also the SkillsUSA chapter advisor.
SkillsUSA is “a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce… to help each student excel,” according to its website. A national educational nonprofit, SkillsUSA serves middle-school, high-school and college/postsecondary students preparing for careers in trade, technical and skilled service occupations with extracurricular programs.
Corsino said the grant is focused on expanding the school’s SkillsUSA chapter even further, such as “getting professional development for our faculty, getting some product knowledge out there. So if we have a student who wants to do construction or a woodworking skill, we’re also able to get them the tools they need to be successful in that as well.
“We might not necessarily have those in our current facility, even though it’s a great facility. It might be something specifically they need to be successful. And the grant is there to support that as well,” he continued.
Paired with the recently described Academic Internship Program (Healdsburg Tribune, Feb. 23), the emphasis on career development is a signature of Healdsburg High’s role, according to principal Amy Jones. “Preparing students for their future careers, whether that is after college or after high school, is one of the most important things we do as an educational institution and a community,” said Jones.
The principal continued, “Career Technical Education (CTE), internships, career days, community speakers or other real world experiences all provide students with essential skills to succeed. For some students, it just takes that one field trip, that one internship, that one caring adult to inspire and motivate them to pursue a chosen career.”
Corsino said there are currently 206 students active in CTE courses at Healdsburg High, and 45 member business, a number that he would like to see doubled. “This grant is all about expanding our CTE,” he said of the career and technical education programs available to students.
The funds, which are earmarked for the next school year, 2023-24, will be “directed towards professional development with new advisors and mentors, student equipment and supplies, and conference cost,” said Corsino.
SkillsUSA also holds competitions, and the HHS culinary program is a regional and state standout. “Last year, we took first and third in the culinary arts state competition,” said Corsino. “Our regional competition just ended, and we got the scores two days ago—a first and second in culinary, first and second in baking, and first in hospitality management.”
However, Corsino repeated that though he is a culinary arts teacher, the SkillsUSA program is broader than just that. He pointed to a recent virtual regional competition, held via Zoom and shared video submissions.
The Healdsburg team won nine gold, four silver and two bronze awards, Corsino boasted. “We do engineering; we have several gold medals in that,” he said. “And we just took a gold in related technical math.”
For the grants, the CTE Foundation received 28 proposals from 19 districts, schools and organizations, with a total requested funding of $670,726. Twelve schools and the Sonoma County Office of Education received grants. (The Spring Lake Charter School received two grants totaling $14,000.) The 14 programs awarded grants this year were exactly half of the number of proposals received.
Additional grants ranged from $12,500 to Adele Harrison Middle School for their Farm to Table program, to $1,500 for Maker Course Wheel Rotation support to Spring Lake Charter School.
Said Kathy Goodacre, CEO of CTE Foundation, “CTE Foundation is the only source of local funding dedicated to innovative strategies that connect students to meaningful careers in Sonoma County.”