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Reach Higher Shasta Campaign: Communitywide Initiative Prepares Local Kids for Success

Unfortunately, there’s a problem with doing well. Even though Shasta County students graduate high school at rates higher than the state average, the majority of area students are far less likely to pack up their bags and head to college than students in similar communities.

Spearheaded by the Obama Administration, a nation-wide effort is underway to help America’s youth achieve greater levels of academic success in order to better compete in the workforce of the future.

“I am truly excited about the work we are doing to align curriculum, assessments, expectations, courses and pathways to ensure our K-12 system aligns with Shasta College and Chico State University to ensure our students have the best ability to succeed beyond high school.” said Tom Armelino, Superintendent of Schools.

Consider, if you will, the following – by 2014, half of the new jobs will require some form of college education, with a higher percentage in the years to come. The math and reading skills needed by plumbers, electricians, carpenters and machinists are the same skills needed by students to be successful in college. And these all require more education than at any time in the past as more and more jobs utilize information technology for even the most basic positions.

Reach Higher Shasta is a local initiative to better prepare our young people for the challenges ahead. This concerted community effort brings together a group of community collaborators, starting with education and public health.

The Shasta County Office of Education is leading the charge with a strategic approach to increase the academic rigor for its students and is partnering with Shasta College to resolve the issues of remediation. This means better preparation throughout a student’s school career and better support moving ahead. In addition, the Shasta Promise connects Shasta College graduates with the opportunity to transfer on to Chico State.

The overarching goal within the school districts will be to make certain Shasta County students receive and education that prepares them for success, without remediation, in all postsecondary options with a focus on high skill and high wage employment.

This ambitious goal means better preparing young people to match the requirements of better business opportunities. This can have a positive impact across many levels as our community and our county continue to grow and become recognized for their talent, innovation, intelligence and skills.

Lianne Richelieu-Boren, director of local education resource College OPTIONS said: “If everything goes exactly as we hope, in 10 years our rates of college preparation course completion will be much higher than the current rate, our remediation rates at the local community colleges will go down, our rates for entrance into two-year and four-year institutions will go up, and those students who have been provided with these opportunities will either stay in Shasta County to become community leaders who encourage and promote a college-going culture, or return to Shasta County after their college/career education to better the future for this region and the next generation.”

Better yet – this effort is open to anyone who would like to be involved. Obviously, when programs involving education get underway, things like staff training, new materials and program development have a cost attached. There are also considerations such as scholarships and grants as a means for local students to cover the costs associated with postsecondary education. This means financial contributions are always welcome.

In addition, businesses and organizations can connect with the campaign. Mock interviews, resume reviews, job shadowing, mentorships and more are ways to allow young people the chance to see first-hand how education relates to job and career objectives.

Parents can find out more through their local schools and start with something as simple as talking about college and career at a young age. It’s never too early to get little ones excited about the possibilities!

There is a movement afoot. Reach Higher posters and decals are starting to show up in the windows and offices of the campaign’s partners. Brochures describing the goals are available. And, of course, there is a website that allows for an easy overview of this initiative along with more detailed information, ways to get involved and how to share this message with your group or organization.

Get involved – visit www.reachhighershasta.com/partner/ for more information.

Click here for Candace L. Brown’s story about the Women’s Fund event that featured

Joshua Corbelli wears a number of hats these days – journalist, small business owner and team builder. He’s always had a place in his heart for the written word, and works, though not as much as he’d like, to keep his skills sharp. Contact him at joshua.corbelli@gmail.com.