Without education and the promise of economic opportunity, communities cannot sustain themselves. That’s why we established Wonderful Education in 2012. To date, we have reached more than 55,000 Central Valley students across 83 schools in 24 districts. We have also awarded more than 1,500 college scholarships and incentives, as well as 1,300 teacher grants.
In California’s Central Valley, youth unemployment stands at a staggering 37%, yet there are an estimated 58,000 high-skilled, STEM-based agricultural jobs that will open between now and 2020. With fewer than 36,000 graduates expected to enter the workforce in that timeframe, there is poised to be a significant skills gap.
That’s why we created our signature high school program, Wonderful Agriculture Career Prep (Ag Prep). This innovative career pathways program aligns high schools, colleges and industry and establishes a “contract” between students, parents and schools—all in an effort to create real-world learning experiences that prepare students for the high-tech jobs of the future. Ag Prep is a rigorous four-year academic track that offers high school students courses taught by college professors, allowing participants to complete their high school academic requirements and earn college credit. At graduation, students earn their high school diploma, obtain 60 units of credit by having taken 20 college courses, and graduate with an Associate of Science degree in hand, all tuition-free. Students can then either enter our skilled Ag workforce with a guaranteed high-paying job ($35,000–$50,000/year), or they can go to a four-year college and enter as a junior, finishing in half the time and at half the cost.
Wonderful College Prep Academy, our Delano-based charter school, continues to thrive and grow as we complete construction on the school’s new, beautiful state-of-the-art $25 million campus, which is being built a short distance from its current location. The new campus welcomed its first students for the 2016–17 school year, and allowed us to grow to accommodate kindergarten through fifth grades, making Wonderful Academy a K–12 school.
Rounding out Wonderful Education’s offerings are a robust college scholarship and academic support program, two preschools, 25 summer camps, arts education across 10 schools, teacher grants, and critical parent engagement programs that help teach parents how to navigate the academic world, advocate for their child, and foster a love of learning.