(Photo: David Jon/CAFwd)
During the California Economic Summit Governor Gavin Newsom announced a $10 million investment in the launch of the Fresno-based Integrated K-16 Collaborative. The project will take an innovative approach to improve student experience and create opportunities for success.
A Summit panel that included several members of the Governor’s Council for Post-Secondary Education discussed the importance of lifelong learning and the K-16 Collaborative.
The initiative will aim to create pathways from 9th grade through college, graduation, and into jobs into good-paying job in growing sectors in the region.
California State University Chancellor Timothy White explained that K-16 Collaborative will start in Fresno because of the region’s social and economic factors. “Just over a quarter of the residents in this region attain a bachelor’s degree and it’s just not going to be a sustainable future economically and socially with that low percentage of individuals having bachelor’s degrees.”
He added “One of the reasons Fresno came up strong is because of the leaders that exist in this community.” He credits business and civic leaders as well as those at University of California Merced, the community colleges, Fresno State and local independent colleges. The Collaboration will include four K-12 school districts, two public institutions, four four-year institutions and four private universities.
“If you take a step back and think about where we’re at whether we’re in Fresno or any part of the State, we created a system of higher education that is complicated and complex,” said Eloy Ortiz Oakley, California Community Colleges Chancellor. “If we give them (educational institutions) the opportunity to redesign it with the student in mind, redesign it with the community in mind, I think it’s something we can take a replicate across the state.”
“I think a feature of the Collaborative is looking for opportunities where students can earlier get on a pathway, a known area where we know jobs that exist now and of the future,” explained University of California Chancellor Janet Napolitano. “For example, students in high school can take community college classes so that we facilitate transfer from the community college to a four-year institution to get that bachelor’s degree – that kind of coordination-collaboration and silo-busting is part of this initiative.”
Ortiz-Oakley added, “Our ultimate goal is to significantly increase social and economic mobility of the residents in the Greater Fresno area.”
The panel ended with a tribute to Chancellors White and Napolitano, longtime Summit participants, who are both retiring.