Santa Rosa, California (April 23, 2020) – With education as we know it flipped upside down, Career Technical Education (CTE) Foundation is pivoting to address the challenges that the shelter-in-place order has created for learning. Following extensive conversations with partners and funded programs, CTE Foundation is implementing three initiatives to support students and educators during home-based remote learning.

  1. Maker Kit Grant Program: It is well documented that instructors are struggling with the unexpected shift to teaching students from their homes, but CTE teachers have a particularly tough challenge due to the “real-world,” hands-on approach that the career technical education model delivers. Through surveys of high school CTE teachers and work-based learning coordinators in Sonoma County, CTE Foundation has identified that teachers are struggling to get materials to their students to support maker, engineering, construction and design curriculum. To address the need, CTE Foundation is offering grants for currently funded CTE courses to provide custom supply kits that support teachers’ instructional plans and allow for quality hands-on activities and learning from home.
  2. Multi-disciplinary Project Teams: CTE Foundation is partnering with Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE) to support three high school interdisciplinary teams between now and the end of school year to create innovative remote learning experiences for students. Teacher teams at Healdsburg, Windsor and Rancho Cotate High Schools will collaborate to create projects that address material in each respective subject area and work with students and industry mentors to solve authentic community problems. “Mandatory remote learning in our schools poses significant challenges,” says Chuck Wade, program coordinator at SCOE. “But it also removes some traditional barriers – like bell schedules – to allow for true multi-disciplinary project development. We’re seeing this as an opportunity to support innovative and relevant learning for our students during the Covid-19 lockdown and I think it will carry beyond this crisis.”
    Girls Tinker Academy Going Virtual: This two-week summer academy for middle school girls that introduces Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) concepts through maker activities is currently being redesigned to go virtual. Sonoma State University Assistant Professor Natalie Hobson, who designed and has led the Girls Tinker Academy for the past two years, is researching best practices and assembling materials to support girls’ hands-on exploring at home. “It’s not a time to be canceling programs like this. Girls need support more than ever to pursue STEM education and career pathways,” says Natalie. “By reimagining this program amidst this crisis, we can keep them engaged and connected to their peers and to learning.”

Funding to support these new initiatives is provided in part from a $15,000 grant from Sonoma County Vintners Foundation. The Vintners Foundation announced the awards last month and informed recipients they would be allowed to “repurpose” their funding as needed to address urgent issues related to Covid-19. In addition, CTE Foundation is continuing fundraising efforts through the crisis to support and expand these and other ongoing initiatives.

“We are grateful to the Sonoma County Vintners Foundation for allowing us to utilize the grant to address the very real and urgent needs of our educational system,” said CTE Foundation CEO Kathy Goodacre. “Our aim is to fulfill our mission to innovate the education-to-career experience for students, which includes pivoting our support in response to emerging needs.  Career technical education is proven to increase student engagement which through these initiatives we hope to provide the support our kids need to remain connected and learning during this unprecedented time.”