U.S. Labor Shortage Renews Focus on Career-Ready Education for High Schoolers

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Additional Grant Funding Paves the Way for New State-of-the-Art Career/Technical Education Facility in Orange County

SANTA ANA, Calif., Dec. 19, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Students at Valley High School in Santa Ana will be able to attend a world-class culinary arts and automotive academy funded in large part by the Santa Ana Unified School District. The $18 million dollar facility was recently built on the campus and will be the largest and most technologically advanced automotive and culinary arts training facility for high school students in Southern California.

These newly built facilities are the latest educational endeavor for the High School Inc. Foundation, which has been serving communities in Southern California for 16 years. The new facility will far surpass the limited space currently offered in the Valley High School classrooms and will add the most advanced hi-tech equipment in both trades to provide students with the latest techniques in the industries. Both the automotive and culinary arts programs will provide mentorships and internships for up to 250 students alongside opportunities to connect with industry professionals, explore career paths, and gain valuable real-world experience through impactful collaboration with the Santa Ana Chamber of Commerce.

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“We couldn’t be more excited to be bringing such an impressive hands-on training facility to our students at Valley High – it’s unlike anything they’ve ever seen and will afford high schoolers true hands-on career education in the most cutting-edge lab spaces, career-oriented classrooms, automotive repair and maintenance shops, and culinary kitchens in the entire community,” said Donnie Crevier, HSI Foundation Board Chairman.

The automotive shop within the facility was designed in partnership with automotive industry professionals in Orange County and was modeled after top-performing dealerships. Students will train on four diagnostic repair bays and two alignment stations that support the repair and maintenance of all car engines, including those in electric vehicles. The program connects students to industry professionals to bring real-world experience into the classroom and offers professional ASE certification and up to five other industry certifications for students who complete the program.

The innovative culinary space equips students with cutting-edge facilities, including three spacious kitchens, a student pop-up restaurant, two adaptable culinary labs focused on farm-to-table cooking, and dedicated classrooms. The design was based around the top culinary facilities in Southern California, and students completing the four-year program receive both high school and college credit.

While significant progress has been made, due to post-COVID material cost increases, $2 million is still needed to complete this transformative educational space. High School Inc. has started a capital campaign to help raise these funds to complete their facilities. A very generous matching grant of $500,000 has been given to High School Inc. from the Thompson Family Foundation. The Thompson Family Foundation has also shared prior success stories with High School Inc. tied to the operation of their other educational facilities.  The school community is eager to see this project through to completion, as it will provide invaluable resources and opportunities for future generations of students.

“The workplace demand for high school grads with an education in the automotive and culinary arts trades is overwhelming, and enabling our students to go directly from high school into their chosen career could propel many of them into the six-figure incomes they’ve only dreamed about,” said Don Isbell, Director of Career Technical Education for the Santa Ana Unified School District. “Offering high schoolers easy entry into these understaffed trade professions is renewing the focus on career education nationwide and will increase our enrollment and our graduation rate dramatically within Santa Ana Unified. Our goal is to prepare our students to be college and career-ready”

For more information about our award-winning CHANGE Academies at Valley High School, or to schedule a tour, visit our website at https://highschoolinc.org/be-part-of-it/

If you would like to donate to the matching contribution by the William S. and Nancy E. Thompson Foundation please contact High School Inc.’s Executive Director, Felix Lugo at [email protected] or call (714) 241-6592

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