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Girls Inc. of Alameda County Hosts Launch Event to Welcome First-Ever Expanded Learning Apprentices

First cohort of Apprentices begin their earn-and-learn program, becoming Girls Inc. of Alameda County employees and Berkeley City College students

Oakland, California – On February 16th, 2023 Girls Inc. of Alameda County, alongside partners Berkeley City College (BCC), the Partnership for Children and Youth, California AfterSchool Network (CAN) and Early Care & Education Pathways to Success (ECEPTS) welcomed their first cohort of 17 Expanded Learning Apprentices and their families to the program’s official launch.

This two-year program is the first-of its-kind in the Expanded Learning/Afterschool field and provides the opportunity to start or advance a career in Expanded Learning*/Afterschool Programs through paid work and professional development training with Girls Inc. of Alameda County. Simultaneously, participants receive focused support in free college courses through Berkeley City College with potential to earn up to 48 transferable units, a Child Development Permit, and an option to pursue an Associate Degree.

At the program launch event, Apprentices gathered at Girls Inc. of Alameda County’s Simpson Center for Girls in downtown Oakland, where they received backpacks, school supplies and laptops, and took the monumental step of registering for classes. After a commemorative photo, the Apprentices reconvened to hear from some of the program’s biggest supporters, including our own Julayne Virgil, Girls Inc. of Alameda County CEO and kourtney andrada, Girls Inc. of Alameda County’s Senior Director of School-Based Programs, who also co-chaired the Workforce Strategy Committee that informed the inception and development of this Expanded Learning Apprenticeship.

“Girls Inc. of Alameda County was perfectly positioned to take on the Expanded Learning Apprenticeship because we have an existing training infrastructure and the supports required to sustain a program like this. We are already of the mindset that if we continue to invest in and support our staff, that enables them to wholeheartedly invest in and support themselves and the young people in our community,” explains kourtney.

Additional speakers included Dr. Joya Chavarin, Faculty Coordinator for the Education Teacher Preparation Program at BCC and BCC Lecturer in the Education Department—Dr. Joya will be a mentor for the Apprentices throughout their journeys and will also be teaching one of their courses. Daryl Bright, Success Manager in the Workforce Development Unit and the Early Educator Apprenticeship Program at YMCA of the East Bay, provided insights and inspiration to the group and was followed by Adele Burnes, Deputy Chief for the Division of Apprenticeship Standards at the California Department of Industrial Relations, who spoke about the need for the program from the state-level perspective, recent mass investments in the field at the state-level, and about the first cohort of Girls Inc. of Alameda County Apprentices as true changemakers in this field.

Research shows Expanded Learning is critical to providing young people with exposure to mentors and new ideas, skill-building opportunities, relationships, and social capital in safe, supportive environments. These programs are a critical support system for youth from under-resourced communities and their families, who have been disproportionately impacted by long-standing systemic inequities as well as the effects of the global pandemic.

Despite the importance of quality out-of-school time, staffing these programs has been a continual struggle due to staff shortages and burnout, leading to program waitlists, and increased program expenses nationwide. Covid-related health concerns and safety protocols have further exacerbated staffing shortages, making the need for afterschool staff greater than ever.

The Expanded Learning Apprenticeship is a direct result of the California Department of Education Expanded Learning Division’s priority to address staffing shortages in the field and to, develop and implement an earn and learn model that will promote career advancement and economic mobility for low-income people and people of color.

“Our Apprentices have the opportunity to do meaningful work with youth in afterschool programs, fostering positive relationships, creating safe environments, and facilitating engaging and intentional activities, while also focusing on their own professional development and growth within a network of support from each other, their employer, and their educators,” concludes kourtney.

Join in the impact! If you have interest in starting or advancing your career in Expanded Learning and/or Afterschool Programs and would like to sign up for an information session, visit Girls Inc. Of Alameda County’s Expanded Learning Apprenticeship Page.

*The California Department of Education (CDE) defines Expanded Learning as “before and afterschool, summer, and intersession learning experiences that develop the academic, social, emotional, and physical needs and interests of students. Expanded Learning opportunities should be hands-on, engaging, student-centered, results-driven, involve community partners, and complement learning activities in the regular school day/year.