Three California Public Private Partnerships Take Top Honors in 2020 PIE Contest

800 400 Ed Coghlan

(Photos: Year Up/STEMbassadors/SLO Partners)

Three California public-private partnerships have won the 2020 Partnerships for Industry and Education (PIE) awards and will be honored at the California Economic Summit next month.

Now in its fourth year, the PIE contest was founded to identify and honor innovative employer-education partnerships that are successfully preparing workers to meet the needs of the California economy.

“There are many innovative programs between employers and educators that are preparing the skilled workers our economy needs,” said Micah Weinberg, CA FWD CEO. “The PIE contest honors and highlight these programs.”

First place went to Year Up and its partnership with Diablo Valley College (DVC) in northern California. The program bridges the divide between young people aged 18-to-24 who have the potential but not the exposure or training for inclusion in California’s workforce. The program is structured to provide academic and experiential learning experience to young adults to prepare them for the workplace. More than 160 students are in the program at DVC in Pleasant Hill. They learn their skills, are placed in internships in Fortune 1000 companies and often are hired when the internships are concluded.

“The interns bring diversity of thought, experience and perspective and you find more productive teams. They’re able to draw on their experiences, grit, determination and motivation, “said Ebony Beckwith, chief philanthropy officer for Salesforce.

Second place went to STEMbassadors, Inc. a student-led 501-C (3) company in the Ventura Unified School District. The company, which fills the educational need for applied STEM education in K-12 schools, reacted to the COVID-19 public health emergency in a dramatic way. It helped meet the need of the shortage of personal protective equipment—especially high-quality face shields– for medical professionals by transforming their program into a production team to fabricate equipment with their 3-D printers. They partnered with local businesses and by April had met their initial goal of providing the face shields to the community health care providers.

Third place went SLO Partners Apprenticeship in San Luis Obispo. SLO Partners identified a need for both the creation of more head of household jobs in the area and local employers that were having a hard time finding people ready to work. The mantra of “screen for attitude, train for aptitude” helped SLO Partners, local schools and the Economic Vitality Corporation carry out initiatives to develop talent pipelines in computer support, cybersecurity, and advanced manufacturing. The regional consortium of business, industry, education, and community leaders also has developed a “women-in-tech” scholarship which has helped increase female enrollment.

Judges had to choose the winners from ten finalists that were identified through a preliminary round of judging from the dozens of entrants received across California.

For a look at PIE Contest program, the ten finalists and judges, click here.

“What struck me, and the other judges was the depth of creative and productive public private partnerships from across California,” said Monica Lozano, President and CEO of the College Futures Foundation. “We know that these programs not only help our economy continue to lead in the 21st century but also provide opportunity for all our students regardless of skin color, zip code or income.”

The winners will be honored at the California Economic Summit, this year being held as a dynamic virtual event on December 3-4. You can register for the event here.

The Summit, now in its ninth year, has evolved into a strong and influential bipartisan network of business, equity, environmental and civic organizations. It promotes programs and policies that meet the triple bottom line — balancing equity, environmental sustainability, and economic growth – for the prosperity of all.

Read more about all three winners in our PIE Contest story series.


Ed Coghlan

All stories by: Ed Coghlan