The Career Pathway Trust awarded $15 million to Pasadena City College last month, allowing the school to develop new career programs centered around information technology and visual arts.

The California Career Pathways Trust, a pool of $250 million, was created in July when the California Legislature passed Assembly Bill 86. The grant award is to be disbursed over a five-year period starting Oct. 1.

“The idea of the grant was for a group of community colleges to work with a group of high schools [to form] career pathways,” explained Superintendent-President Dr. Mark Rocha.

According to the summary of the Career Pathways Trust, Los Angeles High Impact Information Technology, Entertainment-Entrepreneurship, and Communications Hub (LA HITECH) will share the $15 million.

“LA HITECH is a regional consortium consisting of eight community colleges, 29 high schools, 29 businesses and industry representatives, four career specialists and three local workforce investment boards,” the summary reads.

PCC is the lead institution and fiscal agent, meaning PCC is in charge of disbursing the money between the schools in the consortium.

The grant will have a “front loaded” disbursement, with the first two years using more money for setup and startup of the curricula.

The money will go to forming career pathways in three fields: software systems and development, information services and support design, and design visual/media arts.

The funds will also go to help enlarge career services offices and connect students to jobs and local employers. While there are no specific contracts with businesses in place, the idea of the grant is for every student to get placed in a job.

“The money is primarily to construct [curricula] and pathways,” said Rocha. “It will path certain courses in the high schools to connect directly with set [curricula at the community colleges].”

The career pathways were decided through research developed with local businesses. According to Rocha, this will help students more efficiently earn certificates to qualify for high-wage jobs.

“This is a great program,” Rocha said. “Especially for those who are still trying to figure out what they want to do.”

According to numbers provided by Valerie Wardlaw, Interim Director of Public Relations, PCC’s district was among those awarded the largest grant awards in Southern California. Two other districts, Long Beach Community College District and Orange County Department of Education, were also awarded $15 million.

Rocha thinks this is a wonderful achievement and a “big moment” for PCC.

“This college has been known as a transfer school, and the significance of [this grant] is now we will be known as a major career school,” he said. “This is a sign of the college’s health.”

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