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Specialized Secondary Programs (SSP), Overview

Since fiscal year 1984-85, the California Department of Education (CDE) has administered the competitive grant award process that funds Specialized Secondary Programs (SSP) and has funded over 200 programs. California high schools may use the grant funds for programs that provide students with new, innovative learning opportunities in a specialized content area. The Legislature intends for SSP to benefit the state economy by having SSP programs/schools located in close proximity to related industries.

This grant provides two funding opportunities: (1) a planning grant up to $35,000, or (2) an implementation grant up to $100,000.  Following the planning year, schools may apply for an implementation grant as money becomes available.

All California public high schools, county offices of education, consortia of local educational agencies (LEAs), and direct-funded charter schools are eligible to apply.

Programs selected for funding are structured so that participating students explore areas of study in a deeper way while developing knowledge and skills that will prepare them for postsecondary education and careers. As a result, the California Department of Education (CDE) expects there will be high-quality, innovative approaches to curriculum and instruction, assessment, staffing, and scheduling. Not only does the SSP approach often lead to recognizable benefits for the entire school, LEA, and local community, this approach can also serve as a model for effective educational practices for other schools in the state.

In the fall of this year, a Request for Application (RFA) was mailed to every public high school, county office of education, and direct-funded charter school in California. The RFA is also posted on the CDE Web site. The following information highlights other features of SSP:

  • Only those high schools and LEAs awarded SSP planning grants are eligible to apply for implementation grants.
  • Applications must propose the development of comprehensive curriculum for two new courses which would serve students in grades 9-12.
  • Faculty members in SSPs must develop comprehensive curriculum, instructional materials and methodology that the Superintendent of Public Instruction could make available to other schools in the state.  

Appropriate Use of Funds

Funds are to be used to promote the intent and letter of Education Code sections 58800 - 58806 and in accordance with the California School Accounting Manual. These funds are intended to provide new, innovative learning opportunities for students. The funds are not intended to supplant current fixed costs or to be used for gifts of public funds.

Questions: Charlene Cowan | | 916-323-4747 
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, August 9, 2022