Posted by: Carol | October 21, 2011

What’s Happening with the Contra Costa County Community Collaborative for Career Technical Education?

Hello, everyone! Hoping this fine Friday finds you well. Many of you are currently attending the CCCAOE Fall 2011 Conference, here in sunny San Diego. I was there myself on Wednesday and Thursday, and other representatives of WestEd’s CTE team are there today as well. It’s been a really great conference so far – lots of inspiration, discussion, and idea-sharing have been taking place there, and I’ll be posting early next week on it, for those of you who missed it, or are just looking for a re-cap.

Today’s post, however, is a grantee/reader contribution, from Contra Costa County Community Collaborative for CTE (C5CTE). Contra Costa County is one of nine counties in the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Area, with over 1 million residents (it’s the 9th most populous county in the state).  They’ve been doing some interesting work with their K-12 partners, which you may find valuable to your own efforts. Read on below!


C5CTE began as a project that would offer improved linkages between the career and technical curricula of the public schools and community colleges.  Now in its fourth year, the county-wide SB70 funded project has enabled the colleges to work with our regional middle and high schools to identify CTE programming needs and design responsive pathways.

During the 2010-11 academic year, the collaborative enjoyed many successful outcomes. Included below is a spotlight on recent accomplishments at Diablo Valley College and Contra Costa College.  Plans for the 2011-12 academic year include a focus on health pathways and linking activities for students in pathways ranging from arts digital media to sports medicine.

Diablo Valley College (DVC)

During the 2010-11 academic year, more than 100 high school students in articulated classes utilizing “credit by exam” mechanisms, earned college units and were congratulated with a letter of instruction on how to access their transcript at the college.  DVC’s Career Pathways website ( was updated to help secondary schools identify which courses currently articulate with the college.  Twenty-two “credit by exam” articulation agreements are currently in effect with the high schools.  A fall CTE high school articulation workshop utilizing State Pathway templates will be offered on Saturday, October 15th with a focus on the following areas: early childhood education, culinary arts, arts digital media, broadcast communication arts, and computer information systems.

The 2011 summer marked the seventh year that Diablo Valley College hosted the annual Engineering, Construction and Manufacturing Summer Camp. The camp offers summer enrichment opportunities for high school students and teachers to explore theory and practice in a week-long event that offers hands-on exploration, industry field visits, problem-solving, and expert industry viewpoints.

Over the years, approximately 400 students representing more than twenty-five high schools in Contra Costa County have enrolled in the camp, which has been made possible by a collaborative effort between Diablo Valley College, the Contra Costa County Office of Education, and the Contra Costa Economic Partnership Workforce Initiative. The culminating camp event consistently draws attendance from approximately 120 audience members consisting of students, parents, teachers, industry participants, college faculty, and administrators.

High school students and their parents are often not aware of the educational training paths and job opportunities available in the Building Trades, Construction, and Engineering industry sectors.  A slide show for the 2011 camp and an article written by the Contra Contra Times is available at Click on the green “Engineering Camp” tab on the left.

 Contra Costa College (CCC)

Thirty Helms eighth grade English students stopped off at Richmond City Hall to hear the Mayor talk about “green” careers.  This was just one stop in their action packed day.  Over the course of their day-long “green tour,” they visited a water treatment facility, a recycling center and Richmond Builds.  These visits were rounded out by lunch at Mountain Hardware, a company that designs outdoor wear and is housed in a “green” building.  The students had the opportunity to observe first hand a variety of jobs related to protecting our environment.

Contra Costa College, with funding through the Contra Costa County Community Collaborative for Career Technical Education, has coordinated and funded over 20 such “green” field trips for students participating in the Discover, Explore, Soar program.  This program brings career exploration activities to over 500 seventh and eighth grade students in West Contra Costa middle schools annually.  It is a 7-week, biweekly seminar that provides career curriculum, interest inventory testing, and exploration of careers through technical means, as well as guest speakers and field experience.  In addition to the above pictured field trip, over 200 middle school students annually visit Contra Costa College as part of this program.  In the four years that this program has been in place in West Contra Costa, other field experience activities have included visits to San Francisco General Hospital, Kaiser Hospital, Chevron, and local businesses.

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