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San Joaquin County Schools and Employers are Working Together to Connect Students to Careers this Summer – Join Us! 

As we move into the final quarter of the school year, we are seeing great momentum in a countywide effort to connect more San Joaquin County high school students to careers. Some of you may be familiar with our work at San Joaquin A+, but if you are not here is some background: We are a non-profit that envisions a future where all young people can do what they love, earn what they need, in the location they want to live. We work to help San Joaquin County create a system of great schools, and one area of particular focus for us is providing students with learning experiences that connect them to career opportunities while in high school.  Centered on internships, this new initiative will expose high-school students to regional industries, high-demand jobs, develop their professional skills, provide coaching and mentorship, and offer support to make sure they have meaningful learning experiences.  Our ultimate goal is to establish a thriving community where high school youth are inspired and empowered by supportive coaches, educators, and employers to drive long-term economic growth in our region.  A few of the things we’ve done this year to make progress toward this long-term goal include:  Launched the Growing Futures Initiative: This past summer, we launched our internship pilot titled growing futures, which connected a group of students from Valley Robotics [...]

2024-04-09T16:08:46+00:00April 9th, 2024|Announcements, Opinion|

Statement from San Joaquin A+ on the Passing of Don Shalvey

Dear Friends,  Don Shalvey, the Co-CEO of San Joaquin A+, long-time resident of San Joaquin County, and national educational trailblazer for more than a half century, died Saturday at the age of 79. Don was an amazing leader, educator, person, and friend - and he lived a life that touched many people, as is exemplified by the outpouring of support he has received in the last few days, which we encourage you to read below. We at San Joaquin A+ know our work together was just a part of the great story of his life, and the arc of impactful work he did in education over the last 50 years. We will treasure the fact that he chose to use his last years to build an organization and team to serve our youth in Stockton and San Joaquin County. He truly believed right through his health battles last year that if we bring people together from local school districts, charter schools, non-profit organizations, businesses, and county governments to collaborate, we can improve education here in a way that will create a brighter future for the students of this region. As Don said after leaving the Gates Foundation to relaunch A+: “Here in the San Joaquin Valley, the quality of what we cultivate – our grapes, walnuts, cherries, and tomatoes – is known for being among [...]

2024-03-19T19:31:04+00:00March 19th, 2024|Announcements, Tribute|

San Joaquin A+ Releases Report on Career Connect Learning Called Better Together

San Joaquin County Employers Are Willing and Ready to Work with Schools to Prepare Students for Careers [Stockton, CA - January 11th, 2024] Today, San Joaquin A+ is announcing the release of a new report titled, Better Together - San Joaquin County Employers Are Willing and Ready to Work with Schools to Prepare Students for Careers. The report shares information learned over six months of surveying and engagement with local employers. SJA+ shares key lessons learned about how school districts and employers can collaborate – and ultimately – serve students better together. “We are so appreciative of all our employers and partners for their participation and engagement through this process,” shared Kai Kung, Co-CEO of San Joaquin A+. “We hope this report provides information, clarity, and a roadmap for other employers who want to support our youth, or for schools who want to know more about how to prepare students for careers.” A few of the key findings from the report include: 100% of employers surveyed believe it is very important for schools to offer opportunities for students to explore careers through internships or paid work opportunities. 81% of employers surveyed ranked “cultivating a pipeline of talent” as the most valuable aspect of a career-connected learning program, with giving back to the community coming in second. 75% of survey respondents are very interested in employing [...]

2024-02-21T14:44:29+00:00January 11th, 2024|News, Press Release, Report|

Announcement: San Joaquin A+ Announces New Co-CEO, Staff Appointments, and Board Member

Kai Kung Moves into Role of Co-CEO, with Lisa Blanco Jimenez Joining the Board of Directors; New Staff Come on Board to Build out Work-Based Learning Capacity Stockton, CA [12/20/23] – Today, San Joaquin A+ (SJA+) is announcing the promotion of COO Kai Kung into the role of Co-CEO, the hiring and promotion of staff members to support the organization's expanded work-based learning experience programs, and the appointment of new board member Lisa Blanco Jimenez. “I am so thrilled to welcome Kai Kung as our new Co-CEO, welcome Lisa to our board, and Shayla and Tony to their new roles that will support us greatly in serving the students and families of San Joaquin County,” shared Don Shalvey, Co-CEO of San Joaquin A+. “Our goal is to create a system of great schools in our county. These new staff and board appointments will help us better collaborate with local families, along with education and workforce partners to prepare students to be successful and responsible citizens.” Kai Kung has served as the COO of San Joaquin A+ since 2020. Prior to his time at SJA+, Kai was a Senior Program Officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on the K-12 Education Team. Before that, Kai worked on growth strategy at Edmodo, an education technology startup, and spent over seven years at Intel Corporation in Silicon [...]

2023-12-21T16:53:28+00:00December 21st, 2023|Announcements, News, Uncategorized|

ICYMI: Lodi “Growing Futures” Initiative Featured in National Documentary.

Dear Friends and Colleagues, In Case You Missed It, we are sharing a new short documentary from The 74 Million titled “How a California Wine Region Is ‘Growing Futures’ By Turning Vineyards Into State-of-the-Art Classrooms”. It profiles the work of the Growing Futures initiative - a partnership between Lodi Unified, Delta College, and the Lodi Winegrape Commission. The Growing Futures Initiative is so important to us because we are focused on preparing the youth of our region to do what they love and earn what they need to in adulthood. We believe partnerships and programs like this one are essential to achieving that goal. This career connected learning program will give students exposure to and experience with some of our region's largest industries, and provide a realistic pathway for them to pursue careers in viticulture and agriculture if they are interested. In case you missed this too, CBS 13 Sacramento highlighted the partnership and documentary last week. Prior to the documentary release, we held an event welcoming new Lodi USD Superintendent Neil Young into his new role, and providing a preview of the documentary to our local community. You can see coverage of this event here: Lodi News: Neil Young looks to be a rudder as he takes over as Lodi Unified superintendent Fat City Feed: Stockton And Lodi Leaders Congratulated Lodi Unified School Board's New Superintendent Stocktonia: Neil Young looks for [...]

2023-08-24T15:58:06+00:00August 24th, 2023|A+ Monthly Newsletter, News, Press Release|

A New Era for SUSD: Ensuring Success through Community-Driven Leadership

by Don Shalvey (This column was originally published at the news website Stocktonia) In June, optimism emerged in Stockton as the Stockton Unified School Board (SUSD) announced the appointment of new superintendent Michelle Rodriguez. The community breathed a collective sigh of relief, not just because the search succeeded in identifying a skilled and experienced leader for SUSD, but also because of how it was accomplished – through an inclusive, transparent, and structured process. Stockton’s recent history with superintendents is not a proud one. Since the resignation of superintendent John Deasy in 2020, the District has hired two separate interim superintendents, and one “permanent” superintendent who served just over one year of the identified contract. With the election of a new majority board this year came hope that the new board members would bring a new approach to the superintendent selection process – and that’s exactly what happened. The SUSD board hired the nationally-respected search firm McPherson & Jacobson, LLC in March. Once hired, the Stockton Unified School District’s board majority embarked on a structured process in its search for a new Superintendent, including forming a Superintendent Search Subcommittee and establishing a diverse stakeholder interview panel to ensure the voices and insights of community members were heard. As Bobby Bivens, President of the NAACP Stockton Branch shared, “This school board deserves great credit for selecting a firm, [...]

2023-08-22T15:00:41+00:00July 24th, 2023|Opinion|

ICYMI: An exciting Start to Summer at A+

Dear Friends and Colleagues, Happy Summer! I’m writing to share a few updates about what A+ is up to as we head into the next season. First, I’m very excited to introduce you to the Growing Futures initiative. In late May, A+ joined the Lodi Winegrowers, the Lodi Appellation Inclusion Collective (LAIC), and leading employers from the agriculture industry in San Joaquin County to launch this initiative to provide more inclusive and sustainable pathways to agriculture jobs in our region. You can read more about launching Growing Futures: At FatCityFeed here; On the San Joaquin A+ website here; Or, learn more about the Agricultural Partnership Board and our career-connected learning approach, you can view a webinar here; And You can also read more about our SJA+ vision for this work here, in my latest Stocktonia column. I truly believe are sowing the seeds for a brighter, more inclusive agricultural future, and I hope you’ll join us as we build on this momentum for the next generation of vintners, agronomists, and viticulturists. Second, A+ is very excited to welcome the new Stockton Unified School District superintendent Michelle Rodriguez, and to congratulate the SUSD Board on the structured and inclusive process that led to her selection and approval. Now is the time for us to refocus our conversations on what we can do as a community to better support our youth. [...]

2023-06-26T19:02:37+00:00June 26th, 2023|A+ Monthly Newsletter, News|

Stockton Non-Profit, Community, and Parent Leaders Join Together to Welcome New Superintendent to SUSD

Community Leaders Applaud SUSD School Board for Structured, Transparent, and Inclusive Selection Process in Pursuit of Bringing Stability to the Superintendent Role [June 12, 2023 - Stockton, CA] Stockton community, nonprofit, and parent leaders joined together to congratulate the Stockton Unified School Board on their selection and approval of new superintendent Michelle Rodriguez, and on the structured and inclusive process that led to her selection. Through transparency, two-way communication, and active involvement, the Board majority is empowering the community to actively participate in shaping the future of education in Stockton. “I applaud the new SUSD School Board members for identifying and choosing a new Superintendent using a transparent process,” shared Gracie Madrid, former SUSD Principal and Director of the nonprofit Mexican Heritage Center. “Our district is better when we include community members in important processes like these. This hiring reflects that, and we look forward to learning more about and getting to know the new Superintendent.” The SUSD school board hired the nationally-respected search firm McPherson & Jacobson, LLC in March, after public presentations in February from four firms, including: Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates, McPherson & Jacobson, LLC, BWP & Associates, and Leadership Associates. Once hired, the Stockton Unified School District’s board majority embarked on an inclusive process in its search for a new Superintendent, including forming a Superintendent Search Subcommittee and establishing a [...]

2023-06-13T19:29:01+00:00June 13th, 2023|Announcements, News, Uncategorized|

Agriculture Employers Launch the Growing Futures Initiative for San Joaquin County Students

Leading Employers from the Wine and Agriculture Industry Come Together with Educators and Students to Announce Partnership in a Long-Term Effort to Provide New Pathways to Jobs [Lodi, CA]  - On Wednesday May 24th, 2023, the Lodi Winegrowers, the Lodi Appellation Inclusion Collective (LAIC), and leading employers from the agriculture industry in San Joaquin County convened to announce the launch of the Growing Futures Initiative focused on providing more inclusive pathways to agriculture jobs in the region long-term. Specifically, the group announced the formation of an Agricultural Partnership Board in San Joaquin County that will support a Career Connected Learning Initiative pilot program where students intern at the Lodi Winegrape Commission, Holt of California, and Acquiesce Winery this summer. “We formed LAIC with a primary goal of increasing diversity and inclusion in the wine industry in our appellation and beyond,” shared Rodney Tipton, LAIC Founder and co-owner of Acquiesce Winery. “We know that the most effective and sustainable way to do this is to begin by providing the proper education and exposure to young people from diverse backgrounds who are interested in our industry. The formation of the Ag Partnership Board and the launch of the Career Connected Learning Initiative can be the engine for bringing more and more diverse talents into our industry and help provide good jobs to local youth who want to stay in [...]

2023-05-25T18:58:02+00:00May 25th, 2023|Announcements, News, Press Release|

High-Dosage Tutoring Initiative Launched for San Joaquin County Students

San Joaquin A+ and Amira Learning bring high-dosage tutoring pilot program to district partners like Linden USD to help students catch up from pandemic learning loss [April 25, 2023] Stockton, CA - On Tuesday April 25th, Amira Learning, San Joaquin A+, and Linden Unified School District joined with local leaders to share a first of its kind in San Joaquin County high-dosage tutoring pilot program in action - one that uses the Amira learning platform to help students make significant progress in reading. “We are so thrilled to collaborate with educators and school leaders to bring this program to San Joaquin County and Stockton students,” shared Don Shalvey, CEO of San Joaquin A+. “We all know what a toll the pandemic took on student learning, so to have the opportunity to work together to bring a high-dosage tutoring initiative to our young people that will not only help elementary students catch up, but will also provide tutoring, mentoring, and teaching experience to high school students, is truly a win-win for all of us.” In this unique pilot, Amira Learning and San Joaquin A+ are working with local schools in the Central Valley to hire high school students to tutor their elementary school peers using the Amira Learning platform. Research shows that high-dosage tutoring is beneficial for students, and peer tutoring allows for higher rates of [...]

2023-04-27T15:57:44+00:00April 27th, 2023|Announcements, News|
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