Career Technical Education (CTE) Fund Nears $1 Million in Gifts and Pledges to Support Career Technical Training and Work Readiness in Sonoma County Schools

Santa Rosa, California (May 8, 2014) –

The Career Technical Education (CTE) Fund, has approved a second year of grants to local high school for CTE programs totaling $213,000 for school year 2014/15.  The Fund has raised over $960,000 since 2012, in donations and pledges through year 2017 from public and private donors.  Following initial pledges from the John Jordan Foundation and the County of Sonoma totaling $505,000 over five years, donations/pledges have nearly doubled the fund’s total and include a combination of private individual, family foundation and corporate gifts.  Other top contributors to the fund include Tony Crabb/Barbara Grasseschi, the Larry L. Hillblom Foundation, American Ag Credit, Big John’s Market, Gardenworks Inc., Hotel Healdsburg, Kaiser Permanente, Redwood Credit Union, the Soiland Family Fund and Herb/Jane Dwight.

The CTE Fund, a Committee Advised Fund of the Community Foundation Sonoma County, was founded in 2012 by private donors Tony Crabb and Barbara Grasseschi, with a mission to expand and enhance the career technical training and work readiness for Sonoma County students that align with the workforce needs of the County.  “Our goal is to continue investing in the expansion of high-quality, new CTE programs at the high school level”, expresses Brian Ling, Executive Director of Sonoma County Alliance and Steering Committee Chair/CTE Fund.  “We are also in the planning process with Santa Rosa Junior College to develop regional training programs in manufacturing and health care.  This approach will provide the necessary course work at the high school level and matriculate to the JC to help fill the pipeline of trained workers for two key industry segments of Sonoma County” Grants from the CTE Fund are primarily at the High School level and focused on developing new CTE programs that align with Sonoma County’s five key economic development industries as identified by the Economic Development Board and include: Advanced Manufacturing (Including STEM),

Construction/Green Business, Health Care, Sonoma Wine/Agriculture/Tourism, and Professional and Innovation Services.  “More than seventy percent of students who graduate from Sonoma County public high schools are not eligible to enter a California four-year university or college, “ states Sonoma County Supervisor, Mike McGuire. “Providing quality education, job skills and career training are vital to the success of the Sonoma County economy. The CTE Fund is making hundreds of student’s futures brighter by linking public andprivate dollars to work force development which will help make our communities thrive in the years to come.”

Over the two years of granting, a total of ten new CTE programs/courses have been added in the County through six different school districts (seven high schools) largely focused on hands-on learning programs in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).  In addition to the STEM programs, also funded are two programs in Agriculture/Culinary and include a first of it’s kind Farm to Table program at Healdsburg High School and a new Plant and Soil Science course at Sonoma Valley High School.  Additional programs were funded at the middle school level offering career exploration opportunities to as many as 1,950 students countywide through the Sonoma County Office of Education.  (See attached outline of schools and programs approved for grants in 2014/15.)  

Additional donations are being sought to further enhance the Fund. “We believe it’s imperative to provide multi-year investments within the education system to support workforce development and economic stability for Sonoma County.  Through our support, the CTE Fund is helping to drive systemic change and create large impacts for schools county-wide,” says Lisa Wittke Schaffner, Executive Director, The John Jordan Foundation.

For more information regarding the CTE Fund, the grant process and/or if you are interested in supporting the Fund, contact Kathy Goodacre, Executive Director, kgoodacre@ctesonomacounty.org or by calling (707) 537-1679.