MONTEBELLO – Students from all 10 MUSD Career Pathways celebrated their future as they gathered with State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, parents, community members, local elected officials and MUSD teachers and staff to launch a partnership with East Los Angeles College that will secure their paths toward higher education and ultimately high-skilled careers. The community-wide collaborative was made possible by Torlakson’s support of a $6 million California Career Pathways grant.

“Together with our partner, East Los Angeles College, we were able to secure this grant that will not only further support our efforts to prepare students to enter higher education and competitive careers, it will boost our regional economy,” said MUSD Board President David Vela. “With the support of Superintendent Torlakson, we are grateful and honored to be celebrating this grant, which is sure to contribute to the continued success of our students.”

The event celebrated the five-year $6 million state grant awarded to MUSD, in partnership with ELAC, to coordinate regional resources to educate, train and ultimately find jobs for MUSD students. The grant, which is a part of the statewide effort to support Linked Learning, is funded through the California Career Pathways Trust (CCPT), developed through AB 86 (2013) and signed by Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. last year.

“MUSD has been a strong proponent of Linked Learning because it emphasizes the practical application of rigorous academic instruction while preparing students for high-skill, high-wage employment,” said MUSD Board Vice President Benjamin Cárdenas. “This grant is critical in meeting our goal as a Board to ensure that 50 percent of our high school students participate in a Linked Learning pathway.”

Linked Learning connects strong academics with real-world experience in a wide range of fields, from green technologies and engineering to culinary arts and child development. By providing students with opportunities to take on internships, apprenticeships, networking, job-shadowing and other hands-on experiences, students garner a level of knowledge and skill that makes them prepared to enter higher education or a formal job.

“I commend the strong partnership between Montebello Unified and East Los Angeles College,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. “These institutions are helping create a bright future for students by providing them with a seamless path from their academic careers to their professional lives.”

The targeted pathways that will be funded by the CCPT are those aligned with high-need, high-growth or emerging regional economic sectors. Utilizing a labor market analysis, student career interest, and local employer skill requirements, six of ten chosen MUSD and ELAC pathways that will be supported by the grant include: Architecture, Construction and Engineering; Engineering & Design; GREEN (environmental science and conservation pathway); DRIVEN (alternative energy and transportation technology pathway); iCARE (education, child development and family services pathway); and Health Sciences.

“ELAC is dedicated to working with MUSD to continue building partnerships that have and continue to benefit students,” said ELAC President Marvin Martinez. “With this grant, we look forward to strengthening those partnerships and building additional ones both locally and regionally.”

“Education and employers must work together,” said Paul De La Cerda, ELAC’s Dean of Economic & Workforce Development and Career Technical Education. “Our work will continue to ensure that young people are well prepared for college and careers in high-demand and high-wage fields and our programs align with workforce needs, which is critical for student success and economic growth.”

The grant is a joint effort with East Los Angeles College (ELAC), a long-time MUSD partner, and will achieve three overarching outcomes for MUSD: institutionalize work-based learning through the support of workforce investment boards, local advisory boards and deputy sector navigators; create a seamless transition for students to participate in dual enrollment and articulation programs to enhance college success; and strengthen the regional economy by focusing on pathways that contribute to the health of the local economy.

“As a District, we have developed many meaningful and collaborative partnerships to provide work-based learning opportunities for our students that foster long-term and high-quality education,” said Susanna Contreras Smith, Superintendent of Education. “We are so proud of our MUSD team for pursuing and succeeding in obtaining this grant, which will make a significant difference in the lives of our students.”