Salinas aims to drive innovation by helping thousands of young learners become skilled professionals and entrepreneurs. Leading academic institutions such as California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB) and Hartnell Community College are working to train local youth with high-tech skills and have created affordable, accessible programs for students interested in pursuing STEM jobs. These initiatives train students of all ages and educational backgrounds to compete for high-tech careers.
CSin3 is a partnership between Hartnell College and California State University Monterey Bay that allows students to earn a computer science degree through an accelerated three-year program. CSin3 graduated its first class of students in 2016, and many of them accepted jobs at Silicon Valley tech firms and Salinas agriculture technology companies. The first cohort also defied the typical demographics of the tech field. It was more than 80% Latino and nearly 50% women.
California State University Monterey Bay is working with Hartnell College, Cabrillo College, and the city of Salinas to develop a “2+2” Agribusiness degree program. The program enables students from community colleges to earn the specialized degree in just two years following the completion of their two year associate degree, with the objective of creating a best-of-class program that meets the talent needs of the agricultural industry. The program will focus on precision agriculture and IT-based operations, sustainability in agricultural operations, and more.
Founded in 2014 by entrepreneur Jacob Martinez, Digital NEST (Nurturing Entrepreneurial Skills with Technology) is a nonprofit training and collaboration space dedicated to providing professional and high-tech skills training to young adults. A team of highly skilled members offers lectures, access to computers, workshops, and tech certifications at a low cost. Additionally, Digital NEST helps place participants in jobs and internships at local companies, helping to stimulate economic growth in underserved communities.
As a part of Hartnell College’s K12 STEM Programs, CoderDojo Hartnell College (CDHC) provides open learning about programming technology for youth ages 8 to 17. Based on the international CoderDojo movement, CDHC aims to inspire young learners to pursue high-tech careers through its free program, offered at seven different sites in the Salinas Valley. From learning programming fundamentals, to mastering advanced computer programming, students follow a carefully designed curriculum in a six-week program, and obtain a certificate of completion. CDHC also exposes students to extracurricular opportunities by hosting special presenters and traveling to the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, where they participate in the Design, Code, Build program and work side by side with other students from the Bay Area. So far, close to 2,500 students have participated in CDHC.
Hartnell Community College has teamed up with the cities of Salinas, Gonzales, Soledad, Greenfield, and King City, to leverage the local agtech workforce through the creation of an employment training partnership (also known as a sector-based intermediary organization). This model was developed through technical assistance provided by the National Resource Network, a core component of the federal “Strong Cities, Strong Communities” initiative that helps American cities grow their economies. Hartnell College, in partnership with the five cities, will assist the local agtech cluster by aligning existing workforce efforts and resources and strengthening programs that help prepare residents for agtech jobs of the future.