Career Advancement Academy Stories

The East Bay


The East Bay Career Advancement Academy (EBCAA) was coordinated by the Peralta Community College District and is a partnership that brings together two community college districts, Peralta Community College District and Contra Costa Community College District. It is additionally supported by numerous industry, government, educational, workforce development, labor, and community partners to address the educational and workforce development needs of individuals and industries in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. The program focuses specifically on youth and young adults (ages 18-30) including high school dropouts, transitioning and emancipated foster youth, and unemployed young adults. The project serves residents of Contra Costa County and Northern Alameda County, with a strong emphasis on Oakland and Richmond.

The program focuses on two critical challenges 1) the need for training programs and career pipelines to meet the current and emerging workforce development needs of high growth industries in the region; and 2) the need for educational and economic opportunities for low-skilled, low-income youth and young adults in Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

The EBCAA focuses on multiple career pipelines and pathways including auto technology, biotech, bioscience, construction, building trades, allied health, and human services.

Target Areas

The EBCAA project consists of four inter-related components designed to improve student education and employment outcomes: 1) Industry-Driven Program Design; 2) Collaborative Curriculum Development and Instruction; 3) Professional Development for CAA Faculty; and 4) Comprehensive Student Support Services. Strengthening the connection between education and industry is particularly important.

During the period from August 2005 through August 2006, private industry in the Oakland Metropolitan Service Area grew by 2.6%, placing it in the top third of major urban centers in the state of California. This employment trend included the following statistics:

    • Growth in construction continued for the fourteenth consecutive month, adding 3,400 jobs, mainly in the specialty trade contractors and heavy and civil engineering
    • Education and health services saw an increase of 5,700 jobs, a 4.8% increase over the previous year, with healthcare and social assistance leading the expansion by 4,100 jobs

The EBCAA collaborative identified four regional industries targeted for this project: 1) Allied Health/Human Services; 2) Automotive Technology; 3) Biotechnology; and 4) Construction/Building Trades. These sectors were selected for the following reasons:

    • High demand for skilled workers
    • Local rapid growth rates
    • Availability of higher wage/family-sustaining jobs
    • Multiple job options within each sector
    • Lower risk of off-shoring and industry decline

The project service area contains nearly 30 concentrated poverty neighborhoods, with 23.5% of Alameda County residents and 18.5% of Contra Costa County living below the Federal Poverty level. Poverty is increasing and there is higher unemployment in Oakland and Richmond (Nov 06: 6.5%) vs. county level (4.3% in AC; 4% in CC). The population is increasing and has a rapidly growing Asian and Latino population. The area also has higher educational failure rates and lower college-going, success, and completion rates for low-income minority youth in both counties. Additionally, crime remains among the highest in the nation with Oakland homicides up 40% in 2006.

Project Highlights

The EBCAA project is an integrated multi-faceted regional response to the pressing workforce development, training, and educational needs. Unique features include:

    • A first-ever collaboration between the Peralta and Contra Costa community college districts.
    • Institutionalization of programmatic and curricular collaboration among colleges and faculty within each district and between both districts, and with staff at adult education centers and CBOs
    • Employing an accelerated, contextualized basic skills model that is research-based and incorporates best practices for improving learning for low-skilled, low-income, young, and minority students
    • Building on previous single-sector or single-issue collaborations and taking a comprehensive, systemic, and regional approach to solving the needs of multiple sectors, institutions, and populations
    • Testing and promoting replication of new strategies for outreach, instructional delivery, career technical education, faculty development, and student support services

The EBCAA Basic Skills Programs emphasizes not only skill-building in the core subject areas of math, reading, and writing, but also focuses on the development of 21 st century job skillsSpecific industry content is integrated into the curriculum through a set of learning modules that CAA instructors can employ depending on the various career interests and skill levels of the students in each cohort.

The program emphasizes acceleration vs. remediation and utilizes a cohort-based learning community model. EBCAA uses six instructional strategies: scaffolding for independent learning; engaging in instructional conversation; using reciprocal teaching to build comprehension skills; building information processing exercises through memory retention and retrieval exercises; supporting metacognition and self-regulation, and developing the cultural competency of instructors to help diverse students integrate learning.

Expected Outcomes

The ultimate goal of the EBCAA is to provide multiple career pipelines/pathways for undereducated/underemployed youth/young adults (ages 18-30) in the East Bay, by linking these students to living wage jobs, either during their course of study or after completing a certificate or degree program in a targeted industry area. The EBCAA project provides opportunities to improve educational and employment outcomes for undereducated and underemployed youth and young adults and a way out of poverty and a path to economic self-sufficiency.

The EBCAA Regional Advisory Council and project team are pursuing joint fundraising and replication opportunities, through private and community foundation programs, city, state, and federal programs. They are also cultivating relationships with industry partners to bring more resources to the on-going project.