CTE Investment Boosts Equity, Efficiency

In the corporate world, clients use Salesforce’s customer relationship management platform to integrate teams within their organization and customers. From Fortune 500 companies like Walmart to Transamerica to small businesses, more than 150,000 companies use the cloud-based software platform to increase efficiency and eliminate silos.

Now Pajaro Valley Unified School District (PVUSD) is about to put those powerful tools to use as it continues to build upon its Career Technical Education (CTE) program.

PVUSD Career Technical Education Coordinator Julie Edwards says it’s an exciting time for the program, which has been in the process of reinventing itself since the transition in leadership from the Santa Cruz County Office of Education to PVUSD two years ago. More than 3,000 PVUSD high school students currently participate in CTE programs featuring signature pathways in Sustainable Agriculture, Computer Information Systems Programming, Biotechnology, and courses in everything from Building and Construction Trades, Entrepreneurship, and Environmental Resources, and dual enrollment options that allow high school students to gain transferable college credits. 

The goal, says Edwards, is to prepare students for meaningful college and career choices in high-demand, high-wage, high-skill careers.

The technology buildout is one of a range of investments in the district’s CTE program that are being made possible by an $833,934 K12 Strong Workforce Program Grant from the Bay Area Community College Consortium. 

CTE programs in Chicago, Denver and San Diego have already implemented Salesforce to strong results, said Edwards.

According to Salesforce, its Education Cloud for K-12 helps drive student and school success by connecting data, systems, and stakeholders so that educators, staff, and families can work better together to support students. For CTE, that would also extend to local businesses and community organizations that provide real-world opportunities for workplace learning.

Edwards described the practical applications of the content management platform as empowering, allowing for more efficient sharing of resources and opportunities between community organizations, employers and students. An example of what that would look like, says Edwards, is that a student who indicates interest in medical careers and other criteria might automatically get notified of a summer internship opportunity through Sutter Health or a webinar offered by Dominican Hospital, or an ag pathway student might be notified of a presentation by Driscoll’s on the science of agricultural scientific research. And if an instructor wanted to offer a field trip or find a speaker, the platform would allow that teacher to connect with industry partners in those fields.

Edwards likens it to a virtual town square that can connect people and create partnerships, all in support of student success.

“We see this as a way to bring very exciting, very targeted opportunities right into our students’ laps,” says Edwards. “It levels the playing field so that all students have equal access to those opportunities. You no longer have to have a parent who knows someone who told them about the internship. Salesforce will push it out to every student who has the right interests, just by them being tagged.”

Taking advantage of those unique, targeted opportunities and clarifying experiences can make all the difference in helping a student “jump off the page” when it comes to a college application or essay.

“We’re making big strides in the midst of big challenges, grounded in the urgency of doing right by our students,” says Edwards. “It’s a lot of technology, but at its heart, it’s about equity and access. At the end of the day, this is the reason why we are doing this.” 

Currently, PVUSD is seeking industry partners to participate in the development process to provide their expertise and feedback on the Salesforce platform. Interested companies can contact Julie Edwards.  

Learn more about PVUSD’s CTE program here.
Pictured, students in the Signature Pathway, Systems Programming at Pajaro Valley High School.