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Irvine Board Approves $14.5 Million in Grants

BY Daniel Silverman
Daniel Silverman
A native Californian, Daniel Silverman leads the Foundation’s communications wor
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| Dec 10, 2012

Irvine’s Board of Directors approved $14.5 million in grants at its quarterly meeting last week. Of the 53 grants approved, 32 are in the Arts, three in California Democracy, four in our Youth program, 13 in Special Initiatives and one in Special Opportunities. I’d like to highlight some of the grants that we are excited about:

Exploring Engagement Fund – Our Arts program is supporting 19 arts organizations that are experimenting with new ways of engaging audiences and participants as part of our Exploring Engagement Fund. The goal of the new strategy is to promote engagement in the arts for all Californians — the kind that embraces and advances the diverse ways that we experience the arts and that strengthens our ability to thrive together in a dynamic and complex social environment.

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California School Network Readies Students for College and Career

BY Daniel Silverman
Daniel Silverman
A native Californian, Daniel Silverman leads the Foundation’s communications wor
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| Jul 01, 2011
This article first appeared in Education Week, June 9, 2011. Reprinted with permission from Editorial Projects in Education.

To the national debate about whether students should pursue career and technical education or college preparation, a California program wants to add an emphatic declaration: Yes.

The refusal to choose between one instructional emphasis or the other symbolizes the work being done to build career pathways in nine school districts as part of Linked Learning, an initiative cited as a national model of career and technical education.

One of the places the project is unfolding is in a cluster of high schools in the Porterville Unified School District, which serves a predominantly Latino, low-income community here among the San Joaquin Valley’s olive and orange groves.

At one school, a half-dozen students huddle around big desktop computers. The complex formulas they’re calculating and programming into the computer will tell a robot how to restack blocks of blue and red cubes. When they give the robot the command, the job comes off perfectly. Barely old enough to drive, these students are learning to negotiate the real-world engineering that shapes manufacturing.

A few hallways away, teenagers master the high-tech tools of the performing arts world. Aspiring musicians sit at rows of electric pianos, listening through headsets to the music they create as it is automatically notated on computer screens. At another school, students juggle computers and soundboards to produce a morning broadcast.

When they’re not in classrooms, students from these schools are out in the community, working in local engineering companies, staging musicals with preschoolers, or helping design sound for a street concert.

The point, leaders of the work say, is to create a more relevant, engaging school experience for young people by blending the rigorous core academics they need for college with the career and technical education that prepares them for good jobs, and to do it in an applied, hands-on way that includes real-life work experience.

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From the President: Envisioning the New California High School

BY Jim Canales
Jim Canales
Jim Canales served as President and Chief Executive Officer of The James Irvine
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| Jun 16, 2010

Dear Friends,

California high schools have faced extraordinary challenges this year. State budget cuts and the economic downturn have forced many schools to resort to drastic measures, including teacher layoffs and shorter school years, to balance their budgets. And in a state where students already lag their peers elsewhere in the country in academic achievement, there is concern that these measures will only put them further behind.

Yet there are reasons to be optimistic about California's educational future, including the work of some of our grantees as described in this quarter's letter. The efforts of our partners demonstrate that despite the considerable, short-term fiscal challenges we face, the state's top educational policymakers have not lost sight of longer-term goals that ultimately will have more far-reaching impact on California's young people and our economy.

Last month, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell released a report outlining a bold vision for transforming California's high schools through an approach called Linked Learning. This approach, originally known as Multiple Pathways, seeks to engage more students and prepare them for college and career by combining the best of college-prep academics, demanding technical education and hands-on work experience.

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Assessing California’s Multiple Pathways: A Field-Builder’s Guide

BY Daniel Silverman
Daniel Silverman
A native Californian, Daniel Silverman leads the Foundation’s communications wor
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| Jun 22, 2009
It’s one thing to support a particular approach to solving one of society’s toughest challenges. But as Irvine’s Youth program team is learning, it’s quite another to create a movement around that approach, especially one that seeks to transform something as large and complex as California’s high school system.

Youth program

With its partners, Irvine’s Youth program has spent much of the last three years developing and refining an approach to high school education called California multiple pathways — a synthesis of rigorous academics and real-world experience that seeks to engage youth in the serious learning needed to graduate high school prepared for success in college and career.

The multiple pathways approach is flourishing in high schools throughout California, with promising results, but its reach is limited. Now it is poised for expansion at a much larger scale, with 10 high school districts in California developing plans to implement multiple pathways districtwide, reaching tens of thousands of students.

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Tags: ConnectEd

Preparing Youth for College and Career: An Interview with Anne Stanton

BY Daniel Silverman
Daniel Silverman
A native Californian, Daniel Silverman leads the Foundation’s communications wor
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| Mar 22, 2009

Over the past year, the James Irvine Foundation’s Youth program has refined its approach to education reform in California’s high schools. The result is a more targeted focus on multiple pathways as our core strategy for improving the chances that all California’s young people succeed in life.

As is well known, California’s high schools are not working for large numbers of young people. Almost a third of ninth graders will drop out of high school before graduation. And of those who finish high school, most will lack the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in college and the workforce.

One of the most difficult challenges facing high schools today is how to engage more young people in the serious learning that will ensure their success in school and in work. The stakes for our youth — and for California’s ability to compete in a global economy — have never been greater

Anne Stanton, Director of Irvine's Youth program

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Irvine Announces $11 Million in New Grants

BY Ray Delgado
Ray Delgado
Ray Delgado was with The James Irvine Foundation from 2006 to 2013, last serving
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| Mar 09, 2009

San Francisco The Board of Directors of The James Irvine Foundation has approved 11 grants totaling more than $11 million in support of the Foundation's mission of expanding opportunity for the people of California to participate in a vibrant, successful and inclusive society. (For a list of approved grants, click here.)

Of the $11 million, Irvine will make its largest ever grant with $7.5 million to ConnectEd: The California Center for College and Career. A $400,000 Arts program grant will fund Dance/USA for an audience-engagement initiative. Additionally, two grants in the California Perspectives program provide a total of $850,000 to the Common Cause Education Fund and Working Partnerships USA to support electoral and budgetary reforms.

Advancing Multiple Pathways Programs

Irvine's Youth program seeks to increase the number of low-income youth in California who complete high school on time and attain a postsecondary credential by the age of 25. Grants approved as part of Irvine's Youth program include its largest ever grant of $7.5 million to ConnectEd: The California Center for College and Career, to increase the availability of high-quality multiple pathways programs. ConnectEd was established in 2006 with a $6 million grant from Irvine. ConnectEd is a hub for innovative practice, policy and research to expand the number of education pathways that prepare students for college and career.

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Finding Relevance in High School Education, Students Choose Multiple Pathways to Success

BY Daniel Silverman
Daniel Silverman
A native Californian, Daniel Silverman leads the Foundation’s communications wor
User is currently offline
| Jun 22, 2008

The trio of students huddle over a model that began as a gray slab of cardboard and now shows the beginnings of a miniature condominium complex, complete with parking lots, private garages and open-air spaces. The students are troubleshooting their latest problem: where to put the apartment building.

"We can't put it here because there isn't enough available square footage; it measures two centimeters short," explains Jos Bojorquez, 17, clutching one of three two-inch tall cardboard condo buildings that are part of the Lilliputian complex.

"It was such a great way of learning for me. Everything was hands-on. Everything had a purpose."

– Daniel Robles, 2007 graduate of
Construction Tech Academy in San Diego

It is architecture class at Construction Tech Academy, one of four small schools in the Kearny High Educational Complex in San Diego that has become a model for how academically challenging courses with a strong real-world focus can transform high school education in California. Students here are taking college-prep math, English and science, but they're also learning through a hands-on approach that is unlike most traditional high schools.

Instead of lectures and textbooks, for instance, these students are studying building design by measuring dimensions and meticulously crafting miniature models themselves. "We've had to think of everything from plumbing to the thickness of the windows, to how fast the elevators in the buildings can go," says Jos, a junior. "I never thought I'd be using this much math in architecture. But it's really cool."

His enthusiasm is not something you often see in a large public high school like Kearny, which serves a low-income, predominantly Latino community in the Linda Vista area north of downtown San Diego. And it explains why programs like this are the focus of growing interest and support from a diverse array of education stakeholders in California.

Known as "multiple pathways," the approach combines high-level academics with workplace learning and skills. It is based on the idea that high school students come to school with a variety of interests and learning styles, and that in order to engage them in challenging academic work, schools need to tap those interests and demonstrate the relevance of classroom learning to the real world.

In a sense, it is the 21st century version of vocational education. But where vocational ed was seen as limiting the educational potential for many students — leading to jobs but discouraging them from higher education — multiple pathways is designed to provide students with a path to both college and advanced careers.

"The goal is to have every student graduate prepared to pursue some kind of postsecondary education, whether they decide to go to college or not," says Arlene LaPlante, Director of the Network of Schools for ConnectEd: the California Center for College and Career, a Berkeley-based nonprofit that helps develop multiple pathways programs and advances the role that it plays in reforming California's high schools. The James Irvine Foundation established ConnectEd in 2006 with a $6 million grant.

ConnectEd supports 15 schools and academies around the state, including Construction Tech Academy, that serve as models of the multiple pathways approach. These programs are typically small, averaging 400 students or less, and each focuses on a specific industry — finance and business; health science and medical technology; building and environmental design; engineering; and arts, media, and entertainment.

At each program, the curriculum is designed to deliver the academic courses required for entry into the UC and CSU systems. But at the same time, these programs take hands-on learning to a new level.

At Construction Tech, students learn about mechanical engineering not just by studying a bike's gears, as they might in a more traditional high school; they build the bike, gears and all. Students learn about the physics of bridges not by studying textbooks and hearing lectures on bridge design, but by building a bridge; last year, they built a 20-foot-long, six-foot-wide structure over a creek in the Serra Mesa area of
San Diego.

"These schools are making learning relevant, engaging kids and contextualizing their learning," says LaPlante, who oversees ConnectEd's network of model programs. "When students are engaged, they are less likely to drop out of school and more likely to graduate from high school and go on to college."

Indeed, growing evidence shows that multiple pathways hold great promise for reducing dropout rates and increasing student achievement. A recent assessment of 2,113 students enrolled in eight ConnectEd-supported schools found that all of the seniors during the 2006-07 academic year graduated. Of those, 71 percent fulfilled the academic course requirements for UC and CSU, and most went off to college.

Moreover, students in ConnectEd-supported schools were equal to or outpacing their peers statewide on several standardized tests. In the 2006–07 school year, 82 percent of sophomores in ConnectEd schools passed the English/Language Arts section of the California High School Exit Exam, compared with 77 percent of sophomores statewide.

Recently, momentum has been building around the multiple pathways approach. In June, ConnectEd launched an alliance, called the Coalition for Multiple Pathways, to expand the number of
career-oriented high school programs in California. More than 60 education, industry and community organizations, including many stakeholders who don't always see eye to eye about how to improve California schools, have joined the coalition.

The hope is that multiple pathways can address the alarmingly high dropout rates in California high schools, where about a third of students never make it to graduation, and another third graduate unprepared for the demands of postsecondary education or the workplace. The multiple pathways approach offers a way to engage those students who often leave school because they see little link between what they're learning in the classroom and their aspirations in the real world.

At the School for Digital Media and Design (DMD), which is also part of the Kearny complex in San Diego, the front hall is covered with flyers (graphically designed by students, of course) of the schools each senior will attend.

Many go on to Mesa Community College while others attend San Diego State University, UC San Diego and a host of other state universities or private colleges. This year, one student, Linh-Da Ho, received the highly competitive Gates Millennium Scholarship, which will pay for her post-secondary career from college to a doctorate program.

"We've got really high achievers and we've got kids who never thought they would finish high school," says DMD Principal Cheryl Hibbeln. "But they all end up finishing and going on to some form of
post-secondary education."

Hibbeln says that the school emphasizes high academic standards. All students, she notes, must take a foreign language and intermediate algebra, and they can only take an elective once they have shown proficiency in math. "Our mission is to teach kids to be high-level thinkers and effective communicators. We want them to know how to argue, debate and articulate ideas," she says. "So, if theyre working on a video, film or graphic project, it needs to be the best written and understandable product, no exceptions."

As part of the field learning, DMD often requires students to present projects to real-world clients or professionals. In one graphics class, seniors worked on public service announcements for the San Diego city attorneys office. They researched ordinances on environmental issues, then wrote and designed brochures and posters on making San Diego a cleaner city by 2020, and, finally, pitched their ideas in groups before the city attorney and local business leaders.

"You learn that theres so much more to it than just putting together something pretty and slick on the computer," says junior Derrick Beebe. "You really have to think through things and know what you're talking about because the clients can tell. All of it prepares you for real life and for college work."

One of the most promising aspects of the multiple pathways approach is how it can re-engage academically struggling students. At Kearny, one of those students was Daniel Robles, who didnt have much hope of making it through high school, let alone getting to college. He barely finished middle school, leaving with a 1.3 grade point average (GPA).
"I wasnt interested in school. I was there because I had to be there," Robles recalls.

Robles decided to attend Construction Tech Academy, hoping he would find something interesting to do outside of his classes, something that appealed to his interest in building things. Instead, building things was an integral part of Robles' traditional classes. The hands-on learning helped Robles excel academically, turning his
1.3 GPA into a 3.5 GPA and above. He graduated in 2007 and is finishing his freshman year at UC San Diego, majoring in mechanical engineering.

"It was such a great way of learning for me," says Robles, 19. "Everything was hands-on. Everything had a purpose. It made me realize that you can't have one without the other. Even if I just wanted to be a carpenter, I really need to know mathematics and physics."

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Tags: ConnectEd

California High Schools Forge New Pathways to College and Career

BY Daniel Silverman
Daniel Silverman
A native Californian, Daniel Silverman leads the Foundation’s communications wor
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| Jan 22, 2008

Across California, a small but growing number of high schools are experimenting with a big idea: blending technical courses with the academic curriculum as a way to engage more students in the challenge of reaching college and succeeding in the workplace.

At Lancaster High School, for example, in an area 70 miles north of Los Angeles where the aerospace industry is the major employer, students are being introduced to the world of engineering through courses like "Principles of Engineering," "Digital Electronics," and "Integrated Manufacturing." And many of those students are part of a team that competes in an annual, international robotics design competition.

At Lancaster High School, students learn computer-assisted design as part of an engineering curriculum that aims to make academic learning more practical and relevant. (Photo by John Blaustein)

"Work-based learning gives students the opportunity to practice an academic skill in the real world, which most of us don't get to do until we've finished college," says Laurel Adler, Superintendent of the East San Gabriel Valley ROP and Technical Center. "It reinforces the importance of those academic skills, as a response to students who say 'I don't need to learn this.' "

"It helps them see the practical reasons to be interested in academics," says Cheri Kreitz, the school's Principal. "The number one question our math teachers get from students is, 'Why do I need to know this?' If teachers can give a good answer, students will get engaged. We need to help kids see the connections."

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Tags: ConnectEd

Public Policy Institute Polls Illuminate Key Issues for States Future

BY Daniel Silverman
Daniel Silverman
A native Californian, Daniel Silverman leads the Foundation’s communications wor
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| Jan 22, 2008

Across California, a small but growing number of high schools are experimenting with a big idea: blending technical courses with the academic curriculum as a way to engage more students in the challenge of reaching college and succeeding in the workplace.

At Lancaster High School, for example, in an area 70 miles north of Los Angeles where the aerospace industry is the major employer, students are being introduced to the world of engineering through courses like "Principles of Engineering," "Digital Electronics," and "Integrated Manufacturing." And many of those students are part of a team that competes in an annual, international robotics design competition.

In Mendocino County, women artists design story quilts as part of the “Threads of Life“ project in Anderson Valley, supported by the Community Foundation of Mendocino County. (Photo by John Blaustein)

"Work-based learning gives students the opportunity to practice an academic skill in the real world, which most of us don't get to do until we've finished college," says Laurel Adler, Superintendent of the East San Gabriel Valley ROP and Technical Center. "It reinforces the importance of those academic skills, as a response to students who say 'I don't need to learn this.' "

"It helps them see the practical reasons to be interested in academics," says Cheri Kreitz, the school's Principal. "The number one question our math teachers get from students is, 'Why do I need to know this?' If teachers can give a good answer, students will get engaged. We need to help kids see the connections."

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Tags: ConnectEd

Irvine Sponsors Governors Summit on Preparing Students for College and Career

BY Daniel Silverman
Daniel Silverman
A native Californian, Daniel Silverman leads the Foundation’s communications wor
User is currently offline
| Mar 22, 2007
California leaders in education, business, labor, and government came together for an historic summit meeting in March to strategize about how career and technical education can help transform Californias high schools and maintain the states competitive edge in the global economy.

The summit, held in a cavernous sheet-metal manufacturing plant in Torrance, was called by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has made career and technical education (CTE) a centerpiece of his education policy agenda. He challenged the more than 100 people in attendance to use the event as a launching pad for an ambitious effort to expand CTE across the state.

Youth Program Director Anne Stanton at the Governors Summit on Career and Technical Education

"Irvine is strongly committed to CTE reforms essential for California's children," said Anne Stanton, the Foundation's Youth Program Director. "We look forward to working with the Governor, the Legislature, and other key public policy leaders on helping shape this issue critical for the future of our state."

"This summit is, of course, the beginning. It will open up the dialogue," said Gov. Schwarzenegger, who himself is a product of career and technical education in his native Austria. "I'm looking forward to hearing all the different proposals so we can create a long-term blueprint, and really move forward and expand career tech education."

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An Interview with Gary Hoachlander

BY Daniel Silverman
Daniel Silverman
A native Californian, Daniel Silverman leads the Foundation’s communications wor
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| Jun 22, 2006
The James Irvine Foundation recently funded a new center designed to promote educational pathways that engage more high school students by blending academic and technical learning.

ConnectEd: The California Center for College and Career will be working with schools, teachers, policymakers and other stakeholders to develop ways to integrate the best career and technical education programs with rigorous academic curricula. The center was created with a $6 million grant from Irvine.

Gary Hoachlander (Photo by Denise Brady)

"For many students, the world of work is very motivating because it connects what they are learning in school to their long-term goals and aspirations," says Gary Hoachlander, President of ConnectEd: The California Center for College and Career.

ConnectEd believes that by linking academic learning with real-world experience, high schools can better motivate students and prepare them for success in college and career. If learning can be made relevant, particularly to those students most at risk of dropping out, more of them will be engaged and inspired to excel academically.

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Tags: ConnectEd

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