San Francisco Collaboration Scores Grant for IT and Biotech Education

A group of public, private and education entities are working together to strengthen career pathways that give students real-world experience.

A public-private consortium in San Francisco will use nearly $6 million in grant money to help move students into IT and biotechnology careers.

The consortium, which includes the San Francisco Unified School District and City College of San Francisco, received a two-year grant from the California Career Pathways Trust last week to strengthen coursework and internships designed to prepare students for jobs in these high-demand fields. The group was one of 39 awardees that received a slice of $244 million in grants.

The funds will help the consortium, which also includes the San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development and the BayBio Institute, create a clearer career pathway for students to take classes at the high school, get an internship, take dual or concurrent enrollment classes at the community college and link up with a possible employer. 

More than 140 biotech and life sciences companies have offices in San Francisco, and the technology industry is the biggest generator of office jobs in the city, according to the grant proposal. But the red-hot tech sector also is making San Francisco's already expensive housing even less affordable. The consortium's activities will be aimed at students from under-represented populations in particular — so they can gain skills that will allow them to tap into two of the city's hottest and higher-paying job markets and build up the local workforce.

"Now more than ever, we owe it to our community to provide training that will allow everyone to compete within our economy," said Kristin Charles, dean of grants and resource development at City College of San Francisco. 

That training starts with better communication and clearer ties between student outcomes and curriculum. The consortium will provide professional development for both high school and college counselors and faculty so they know about the career pathways. They'll also host events, create promotional material and create a Web app that guides students through the pathways. 

The development office and BayBio Institute will help broker partnerships with local tech companies so that students can gain experience in their chosen pathways and apply the knowledge they learn. They'll be able to do summer internships, shadow tech workers on the job and work with mentors, among other things.

"It gives our students the knowledge, skills and experience to navigate the real world and to solve problems that arise in everyday life and in the workplace," said Stephen J. Koffman, executive director of the Office of College and Career Readiness at San Francisco Unified School District. 

This article was originally published by The Center for Digital Education