Partners receive ‘Reach for the Upside’ planning grant in the amount of $250,000 to design an early college high school program focused on the wine growing and hospitality industries.

[Read more about this grant at the Lodi News Sentinel]

[July 15, 2021 – Lodi, CA] Nonprofit San Joaquin A+ is partnering with the Lodi Unified School District, Delta College and the Lodi Winegrape Commission to design an early college high school career and technical education (CTE) curriculum to prepare students for careers in the wine growing and hospitality industries. The team participated in a design competition throughout the spring hosted by the Stanford Design School and funded by the Genentech Foundation, and has been identified as one of 11 design teams to receive a grant of $250,000 to continue planning into the upcoming school year.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to be involved in this great partnership,” shared Don Shalvey, CEO of San Joaquin A+. “When the Stanford Design School selected our team for this opportunity, we knew there would be great potential with the quality of organizations involved, but have been blown away by the ideas that leaders from Lodi USD, Delta College, and the Lodi Winegrape Commission have brought to the table, and look forward to collaborating to make this early college high school program a reality for our youth.”

The program has the potential to be a win for all involved: an innovative solution to the skills gap and need for greater diversity in the talent pipeline, a financially rewarding career path for many young people who stay in the area after graduation and a much-needed economic boost for family farms.

“This design process helped bring together organizations that might not normally collaborate in service of a shared vision,” said Jessie Garza-Roderick, Dean at Delta College. “It was a very productive initial exercise, and we look forward to continuing to work together to use this year for further planning and partnership.”

The planning grant will fund this group to continue their work, which will include community outreach, needs mapping, visits to other programs and schools, and an analysis of existing programming available to students.

“This grant is just the first step, but an important one,” added Jeffrey Palmquist, Assistant Superintendent of Secondary schools at Lodi USD. “This funding will allow us to go beyond our design team to gather input from district families and educators, to determine if this is a program that not only sounds good on paper, but will meet the needs of our students.”

Over the past 29 years in the Lodi region, the acreage of winegrapes has nearly doubled while the crop value has quadrupled. With around 10 wineries in the early 1990s, Lodi now has over 90 wineries and continues to grow. This explosive growth shows the potential for a program that would not only help create a career pathway for area young people, but could also help fulfill a growing regional employment need.

“Generational farming is extremely important to our winegrowing community,” noted Stephanie Bolton, PhD, the Research & Education and Sustainable Winegrowing Director for the Lodi Winegrape Commission. “So it’s no surprise that we’re thrilled to connect the energy of our local youth with the wisdom of our farmers and vintners to create new opportunities for both.”