Student Training & Employment Program (STEP) Announces $10M Awarded to Support Education and Career Pathways for Students with Disabilities

Student Training & Employment Program (STEP) Announces $10M Awarded to Support Education and Career Pathways for Students with Disabilities

20 awardees have been selected by STEP to receive funds and help expand more equitable career and job training opportunities statewide.

Sacramento, CA – February 7, 2024 – The Foundation for California Community Colleges (FoundationCCC) in partnership with the California Department of Rehabilitation (DOR), has announced $10 million in funds awarded to strengthen educational and career pathways for students with disabilities. Made possible through the Student Training & Employment Program (STEP), 20 Local Workforce Development Boards (LWDB) and America’s Job Centers of California (AJCC) have been provided funding. 

STEP, in its sixth year of implementation, has continued to iterate its model to better serve students with disabilities across California. This round of funds will enable selected recipients to provide year-round support to students with disabilities aged 16-21 through paid work experience, job preparation training and exploration, workplace readiness skills training, career pathway counseling, and more, with anticipation of being able to serve over 1,300 students per program term. 

Funding to support STEP awardees comes from the federal “Rehabilitation Act’ (or Title IV of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act). Recipients include groups like returning awardee, the Workforce Investment Board of Tulare County (Tulare WIB). Tulare WIB has operated the STEP program successfully since 2019 with their local district offices and schools; they aim to enroll up to 300 students with disabilities in underserved rural communities with this round of funding. 

Additionally, new STEP awardee, the Alameda County Workforce Development Board plans to use this funding to expand existing partnerships with the Eden Area Regional Occupational Program and  DOR Greater East Bay District Office with a goal of reaching over 125 more students. 

“Through STEP, we’re able to activate local experts to expand services and better serve our students with disabilities across California,” said Tim Aldinger, Executive Director of Workforce Development at FoundationCCC. “We’re proud to partner with the Department of Rehabilitation to ensure students receive the support and resources they need to achieve their career goals.”

“The STEP program provides students with disabilities valuable on-the-job training and experience, and supports their long-term success,” said Mark Erlichman, Deputy Director of Vocational Rehabilitation Employment Services Division at DOR.  “We are grateful for this collaboration with FoundationCCC and all of our local workforce development boards to provide this opportunity to the students we serve.”

To date, over 1,600 students have engaged in paid work experience and work readiness services through STEP, made possible through partnership with over 14 participating Local Workforce Development Boards. DOR provides support at the state and local levels to enroll students with disabilities into STEP and ensure connections to resources for students and employers. The Foundation for California Community Colleges has been engaged to support STEP awardees through a tailored approach to funding administration and a capacity building model of technical assistance, leveraging a Community of Practice and human-centered design principles. 

To learn more about STEP, please visit FoundationCCC’s website here.

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About the Foundation for California Community Colleges

The Foundation for California Community Colleges is the official nonprofit foundation to the California Community Colleges. The Foundation’s mission is to benefit, support, and enhance the missions of the California Community Colleges system, the largest higher education system in the nation. Incorporated in 1998, the Foundation works to benefit all California Community College students, colleges, college foundations, and the system as a whole by accelerating paths to economic and social mobility, strengthening communities, and reducing barriers to opportunities for all Californians. The Foundation is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit organization. For more information, visit https://foundationccc.org/ 

About the California Department of Rehabilitation

The California Department of Rehabilitation works in partnership with consumers and other stakeholders to provide services and advocacy resulting in employment, independent living, and equality for individuals with disabilities. Visit the California Department of Rehabilitation Website. Follow on LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook 

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