October 10, 2023
State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Launches Statewide Paid Internships Effort as a Crime Prevention Strategy and to Connect Youth to Career Pathways
SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond launched a statewide paid internships effort today with a press conference and summit in Sacramento. The event explored ways to design paid training and career coaching programs and reaffirmed the state’s commitment to preparing students for the jobs of tomorrow. Amid reports of a spike in crime, including crimes committed by juveniles, the effort’s goals include helping connect youth to bright futures and helping prevent youth from engaging in crime.
“We have many young people who need an opportunity to earn and learn, and that is why we are launching a statewide paid internship strategy at a time where the need is very great,” said Thurmond. “We can build a statewide effort where we can serve more students, and we want them to not just put money in their pockets but to learn about a career path that will help them moving forward.”
Special guest speakers for the press conference and summit included Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass; Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe; San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins; Ben Chida, Chief Deputy Cabinet Secretary and Senior Advisor for Cradle to Career, Office of Governor Gavin Newsom; Jennifer Barrera, CEO of the California Chamber of Commerce; Jeremy Smith, Deputy Legislative Director of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California; Juan Ramirez, Executive Vice President of the California Federation of Teachers; Joseph Villela, Director of Government Relations for the California Wellness Foundation; Stewart Knox, Secretary of the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency; Amy Tharpe, Director of Social Responsibility for the Port of Oakland; Brooklyn Williams, Chief of Education and Community Safety for the City of Oakland; Agustin Toledo, Hospitality Lead Teacher at Coachella Valley High School; and Erick Pena-Martinez, paid student intern and a senior at Coachella Valley High School.
The summit featured about 700 in-person and virtual participants who heard from Thurmond and guest speakers and participated in working groups. In the working groups, participants discussed leveraging and expanding funding, expanding internships and paid work experience placements, program design and coordination, wraparound supports for students, legislative and budget initiatives to support a new statewide program, and outreach and communication.
“A paid internship can be and often is a life-changing experience for our young people, exposing them to careers that might not be accessible in their communities,” said Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass. “I applaud this effort and want to continue to support the work of our Superintendent in lifting up California’s children.”
“These programs are so critically important, and I wholeheartedly support them,” said Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe. “In Antioch, thanks to American Rescue Plan Act funding, we had the opportunity to build our own program called the Mayor’s Apprenticeship Program, and it focuses on youth ages eighteen to twenty-six, and we specifically focus on youth who have been previously in the justice system. And so I am completely in support of this initiative to ensure that we are able to provide these opportunities to our children.”
“Each and every day, my office has to struggle to figure out what to do with our youth that have become involved in the criminal justice system as we try to route them out of this system and to resources in a productive way,” said San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins. “One of the challenges that most of our youth face is having hope for a better future, and part of providing that hope is giving them access to what types of careers might be available to them.”
Thurmond sponsored Assembly Bill 2088 in 2022 to fund paid internships for youth and has signaled that he will introduce a similar measure in the 2024 legislative cycle. The summit informed legislative and budget recommendations that Thurmond will pursue in next year’s legislative cycle.
Thurmond and partners will also be contacting foundations, corporations, donors, nonprofits, and businesses to help fund pilots until a legislative allocation can be pursued in 2024. Thurmond intends to work with partners to blend and braid funding sources—including funding from government programs, workforce development programs, and private foundations—to help any young person who wants a paid internship opportunity.
Those interested in participating, partnering, or supporting the paid internships program should email CAstudentinternships@cde.ca.gov.
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Tony Thurmond —
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100