Sonoma Corps was created to address three key issues in our local region:
1. As reported in a 2019 Forbes magazine article, the gap between the skills needed for today’s jobs and the number of new workforce entrants prepared and trained to do them is growing wider every day. Employers nationwide report that a college degree is no longer the deciding factor for new hires; work experience, interpersonal skills and technical aptitude are now the most desired traits for a job applicant.
2. In January of 2022, the California-based national nonprofit YouthTruth administered surveys across 146 schools across Sonoma County school districts. The effort resulted in hearing from over 32,000 students on topics like engagement, college and career readiness, academic challenge, school culture, and emotional and mental health.
According to the survey, Sonoma County students do not feel engaged in their learning or equipped to pursue college or career. The same survey, however, finds that students that experience some work-based learning, such as relevant projects that includes employer engagement, tours to visit local employers and explore careers, and internships, significantly increases these scores.
3. Sonoma Corps implementation and expansion focus heavily on equitable access for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. To many students, participation in the Sonoma Corps program allows them to explore industries otherwise unknown to them and presents an opportunity to break the cycle of generational poverty, attend college, stay local for high-skill, high-wage and in-demand careers, and create a financially secure future for themselves and their families.