• Santa Maria Valley Chamber Expands Support for Education and Workforce Preparation

    The Santa Maria Valley Chamber has long prioritized support for education, particularly as it ensures a strong local talent pipeline for the workforce. Recognizing that this work is among the most important ways to support our local economy, the Chamber is excited to announce a formal partnership with Partners in Education, a non-profit operating under the Santa Barbara County Education Office (SBCEO).
    The Chamber has a strong history of collaboration with SBCEO and individual local school districts, supporting programming that connects the business community to local schools and students. The Computer Connections program has provided computers to students in need since its inception in 2002. Events like Principal for a Day and Youth of the Month have showcased local students and leadership in education. By partnering in a more formal and intentional way with SBCEO’s Partners in Education (Partners), the Chamber will expand its impact in developing the local workforce in the Santa Maria Valley.
    “Santa Barbara County’s students have benefitted from the robust, long-standing partnership we’ve had with the Santa Maria Valley Chamber. The Chamber has been instrumental in connecting local students and schools with the business community,” explained Dr. Susan Salcido, Santa Barbara County Superintendent of Schools. “We are excited to build on this partnership through a formal collaboration between Partners and the Chamber, which will translate into hands-on career exploration opportunities for youth in Northern Santa Barbara County.”
    More specifically, through the partnership with Partners, the Chamber will connect the Santa Maria Valley business community to opportunities to participate in workforce development programming, including:

    • Hosting (or sponsoring) paid student internship experiences
    • Ensuring students and families have access to technology by donating gently used computers or hardware to the Computers for Families program, which refurbishes and distributes the equipment
    • Personally engaging in school-based or essential skills-building programs (e.g., career coaching, guest speaking, mock interviews, etc.)
    “Providing ways for the community to invest in our future workforce early and often is at the core of Partners’ mission,” said Chelsea Pacino Duffy, Executive Director for Partners. “The Chamber shares this vision and sees the business community as a critical piece to the puzzle in preparing youth for meaningful careers. We are thrilled to work alongside such a trusted partner to continue strengthening our efforts in Santa Maria.”
    The partnership between the two organizations aligns with the Chamber’s ongoing efforts in local workforce development.
     “Being able to collaborate with groups like Partners and leverage our connections with the business community means we can be part of building a strong workforce long before new hires even reach our doors,” explained Glenn Morris, President/CEO for the Chamber. “We know the work needs to begin early in a young person’s educational journey, and so we are excited our partnership with Partners will do just that—allowing us to provide resources to our future workforce and leaders.”
    The Chamber will collaborate with Partners by engaging local businesses in the partnership’s programming, convening business and education leaders for an annual State of Education event, and celebrating local successes by highlighting high performing career programs and the youth leaders coming through those pathways.
    “Santa Maria Valley businesses are always looking to hire locally when possible, and the Chamber is helping assure we have a strong pool of qualified candidates for our businesses to pull from through creating partnerships like the one with Partners,” explained Edgar Gascon, Board Chair for the Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce. “I encourage our business community to get involved in the internship program and other opportunities provided for student development. Not only are you helping our local youth, but you are also ensuring a workforce for your business one day.”
    Learn more about the partnership and how your business can get involved by visiting http://santamaria.com/workforce-development or by contacting Molly Schiff, Director of Member & Community Engagement at the Chamber molly@santamaria.com or (805) 925-2403 x 816.