Local Schools Receive NSF Grant of nearly $1M

Local Schools Receive NSF Grant of nearly $1M

Recipients Include Cabrillo College, Digital NEST and PVUSD

NSF Grant Times Publishing Group Inc tpgonlinedaily.comCabrillo College, Digital NEST and Pajaro Valley Unified School District to receive as sub-grantees of a National Science Foundation ‘Computer Science for All’ Grant funding to Establish Computer Science and Computational Thinking Pathways for
K-14 Students in South Santa Cruz County. It is a three-year grant award of $999,737 starting on October 1, 2018 and ending September 30, 2021.

The project, entitled “A Coordinated, Cross-Institutional Career and Technical Education Cybersecurity Pathway” will provide high school and college students with the opportunity and support to participate in computer science (CS) and computer and information systems (CIS) education. The grant builds on existing partnerships between ETR, Cabrillo College, Digital NEST and PVUSD that foster the research and development needed to bring computing experiences to more students.

NSF Grant Times Publishing Group Inc tpgonlinedaily.comNSF Grant Times Publishing Group Inc tpgonlinedaily.comThis grant will provide the resources to develop a more seamless and aligned Information, Communications and Technology (ICT) pathway from South Santa Cruz County high schools (Pajaro Valley High School, Renaissance and Watsonville High School) into Cabrillo College.

“Having well established Career and Technical Education (CTE) pathways is a priority area at Pajaro Valley Unified School District,” said Dr. Michelle Rodriguez, Superintendent, PVUSD. “Linked Pathways supports our ability for students to have authentic learning that includes internships, certification, and dual enrollment. This program will help ensure that our students are college and career ready.”

NSF Grant Times Publishing Group Inc tpgonlinedaily.comNSF Grant Times Publishing Group Inc tpgonlinedaily.com“Research from Lopez & Fry demonstrates that while Latinos make up 19% of all U.S. college students ages 18- 24, they earn only 6% of Computer Science bachelor’s degrees,” said Gerlinde Brady, Dean of Career Technical Education at Cabrillo College. “Offering CS and CIS pathways to dual-enrolled high school students who earn college credit while in high school will increase their likelihood of enrolling in college and becoming CS and CIS majors.”

Program activities will include coordination between Cabrillo College and PVUSD high school instructors on curriculum development and alignment, delivery of dual enrollment courses, and coordination of extra- curricular activities with Digital NEST, including after-school programs, student club activities and competitions, summer camps, and field trips to employers. The grant will also provide resources for student support services such as counseling, faculty advising, peer mentoring, supplemental instruction, and student performance evaluation.

“The (Linked Pathways) Digital Media Crew (DMC) program is the product of three forward-thinking organizations collaborating and innovating within the current education system,” said Steve Bean, Enterprise Director at Digital NEST. “DMC is the first example of how, working together, PVUSD, Cabrillo and Digital NEST are giving the talented, hardworking youth of Watsonville a program in which they can simultaneously: 1) get their high school diplomas, 2) earn college credit during high school and 3) train in professional skills for a digital career.”

There will be regular data collection and analysis to monitor student movement along the pathway and guide continuous refinement. These activities will be driven by a developing research-practice partnership to ensure that the results are relevant to local needs and national research questions.

“This grant not only brings resources to support STEM education in Santa Cruz County, it will also generate data that can inform national conversations about how to bring Computer and Information Systems experiences to all students,” said Jill Denner, Senior Research Scientist at ETR.

ETR is a non-profit organization that advances equity in health and education by doing applied research and creating solutions to social problems. A major ETR focus is equity and inclusion in STEM fields and reaching youth from underrepresented groups.


Cabrillo College serves Santa Cruz County with locations in Aptos, Scotts Valley and Watsonville.

Digital NEST provides access to technology and career training to youth and young adults (high school -24) in underserved communities and currently has state-of-the-art collaborative workspaces in Watsonville and Salinas, CA.

Pajaro Valley Unified School District serves 20,740 students: 82% are Latino, 16% are White, 68% are English Language learners, and 78% qualify for free or reduced lunch programs. The district has sixteen elementary schools, six middle/junior high schools, three comprehensive high schools and eight charter/alternative schools. At the center of PVUSD’s Target for Student Success is the belief that our students must leave our schools college and career ready.

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