In late August 2022, CSU5 campuses along with more than two dozen K-16 partners received an award of $18.13 million from the California Department of General Services grant to launch the L.A. Regional K-16 Collaborative, a countywide effort that aims to increase equitable degree attainment, streamline educational pipelines, and address labor market demand for the L.A. region with a focus on health, computing and engineering occupations.

The purpose of the grant is to streamline pathways from high school to postsecondary education and into the workforce. The LA K-16 Collaborative is modeled after Fresno, California’s collaborative that was launched in 2020 with a $10M grant from the California Governor’s Office.

Postsecondary education is key to long-term career growth and economic mobility. L.A. County’s K-12 student population is majority Latinx (66%) and Black (7%), yet when they graduate from high school, they are 13 and 17 percentage points less likely to enroll in higher education than their White peers. Less than 5% of community college degrees related to health care, engineering and computer science are awarded to Latinx students – all fields that offer high-growth, living wage career opportunities.

Improving education attainment lies not on our students from historically marginalized communities, but on our systems to address these inequitable outcomes by working together to streamline and accelerate transitions between high schools, community colleges and four-year universities. Strong employer engagement will also be a central focus of this effort to ensure K-16 pathways are aligned to regional workforce needs.

The L.A. Regional Collaborative will work to advance our goals by pursuing shared objectives, including:

  • Expanding and enhancing dual enrollment offerings, course registrations and completions to improve pathway awareness and early college credit.
  • Enhancing transfer pathways through the creation of stackable credentials, strengthening articulation between public 2-year and public 4-year institutions, and better advising to improve transfer success.
  • Expanding work-based learning opportunities to improve students’ economic security, career exposure and employer-aligned skill development.

Over the next year, the L.A. Region K-16 Collaborative will implement a local, sub-grant award process to distribute funds across five sub-regional partnerships organized around the county’s five Cal State Universities to strengthen and expand K-16 pathways in their region.

Jane Close Conoley, President of Cal State Long Beach and leader of the CSU5, said: “I am delighted to take part in L.A. County’s K-16 Regional Collaborative. The CSU is one of this nation’s most powerful economic drivers and imperative to the county. This effort to unite our systems will significantly augment the CSU5’s ability to support the region. To work closely with other campuses in the region is the chief mission of the CSU5, and the opportunity to scale that across K-12, higher education and the workforce will be invaluable to our students and community.”

Dr. Francisco Rodriguez, Chancellor of the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD), noted: “LACCD is pleased to be a member of L.A. County’s new K-16 Regional Collaborative and appreciative of the state for seeing value in the proposed work and for funding us. In joining fellow community college districts, 4-year public universities, K-12 districts, and employers, we will collectively create the conditions and capacity for meaningful change and impact in our county. Providing clear and concise pathways for students throughout their education is a key component of student success and we are prepared to scale this opportunity to all students in L.A. County.”

UNITE-LA was the convener of the Collaborative, which will also seek opportunities to leverage or attract new resources beyond this K-16 grant opportunity to pursue additional targeted pathways in early childhood and K-12 education. UNITE-LA has been a trusted business intermediary, dedicated to supporting the development of an effective local public education system, so that all children and youth succeed in college, career and beyond.