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Stimulus package approved for El Dorado County

Golden Sierra Workforce Investment Board to receive $2.9 million
By: Bridget Jones, Special to the Telegraph
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Youth work experience programs in El Dorado County will get a big boost in funding this summer. According to its Web site, the Golden Sierra Workforce Investment Board expects to receive $2.9 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or federal stimulus package, for the 2009 and 2010 program years. Approximately $968,000 will go toward paid summer youth work experience and work readiness programs in El Dorado County, Placer County and Alpine County. On Friday the Golden Sierra WIB announced that about $450,000 will go toward summer programs in El Dorado County alone, according to Vicki Barber, superintendent of El Dorado County Office of Education. “We’re excited and very pleased, and certainly appreciative,” Barber said. Although final decisions are still being made this week on specific program funding, several projects created at school districts throughout El Dorado County were given the green light for funding Friday. One of these projects is a computer technology program developed by El Dorado Union High School District. This program will receive $23,667 in funding, and will give students a chance to gain paid technological experience while helping to install 700 new computers throughout the six schools within the district, according to the project bid, which can be found on the Golden Sierra WIB’s web site. Another El Dorado Union High School District summer work experience program that will receive $16,808 in funding will take place at Ponderosa High School in Shingle Springs. This project also offers teens a chance to work as technicians while installing new computers in the campus library. Barber said work experience programs like these computer technology projects will provide fresh resources to teens who might not otherwise have them. “These (programs) are specifically aimed at lower income or youth at risk,” she said. “This gives them the opportunity to enter the workforce during the summer and gives them more resources. Any time we engage youth in the work environment … we think it is a very positive opportunity for them.” In about 10 days after learning it had an opportunity to receive funding for these types of projects, El Dorado County Office of Education worked to submit 15 project bids to the Golden Sierra WIB for consideration by the April 3 deadline. These bids spelled out funding for 172 student positions in projects developed through the Black Oak Mine Unified School District, El Dorado Union High School District, Lake Tahoe Unified School District and four programs sponsored through El Dorado County Office of Education. To be considered for funding, projects had to fall under five high-growth, high-demand industries. These industries included green technology; science technology, engineering and math; health care and health technology; skilled manufacturing and construction, said Lorna Magnussen, executive assistant at Golden Sierra WIB. Rob Schamberg, a representative of the office of education who worked with the district superintendents to coordinate and review the program bids in order to meet the deadline, said on top of providing teens with chances to get paid while teaching them hands-on skills, these programs will also show them what it’s like to responsibly perform in a job setting and various other skills, such as resume writing. “There’re a lot of reasons (why these programs are important),” Schamberg said. “One is that the students are getting paid work experience in a real industry, and that’s a phenomenal opportunity four our students. The other piece is this provided (these programs) with funding to teach work readiness skills.” Several other work experience programs in El Dorado County school districts have already been granted funding, including a solar conversion project created by representatives of Golden Sierra High School in Garden Valley. This project will involve students converting a golf cart into an electric/solar powered vehicle to be used to transport materials and students with temporary disabilities around campus, according to the project’s bid, which can be found on the Golden Sierra WIB’s web site. “They’ve had this dream for a good year or two … but they were searching for funding for materials for the kids to work with, and it’s a bonus that the kids actually get paid for the work,” Schamberg said. Anyone interested in more information on the Golden Sierra’s WIB’s funding for summer youth work experience programs and other specific programs being funded throughout El Dorado, Placer, and Alpine Counties, can visit recovery.goldensierrawib.com Schamberg said another positive aspect of the work experience programs is that educators are truly excited to give students these skills. “Teachers got into being educators to teach their passions,” he said. “I know the students will be very engaged and motivated by it.” Bridget Jones can be reached at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com.