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SAN DIEGO—Today, two of the largest and most community-centered organizations in Southeastern San Diego begin a collaboration that will propel opportunity youth into education and jobs.

San Diego Continuing Education (SDCE)—the adult education division of the San Diego Community College District and the largest provider of noncredit free career training in California—and the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation plan to double the number of “disconnected youth” participating in the San Diego Gateway to College and Career (SDG2CC) program at SDCE to complete education and prepare to join the workforce. 

Jacobs Center, with support from the James Irvine Foundation, will provide $300,000 in funding to the SDCE Foundation for a contract to extend programming in SDG2CC to serve an additional 45 students who reside in Southeastern San Diego, on top of the 60 students already in the program.

Students will be guaranteed a San Diego Promise scholarship, which provides two-year tuition/fees for community college, plus $500 per year for books, thanks to the generosity of the Jacobs Center.

Opportunity youth, formerly referred to as disconnected young adults, are ages 16-24 and are neither in school nor working; therefore, are disconnected from education and career. These youth contribute to lost productivity in a region’s workforce and place increased need on social services in a community.

SDCE launched SDG2CC in 2017 through a collaboration with the San Diego Workforce Partnership (SDWP). At the time, the partnership was evidence of both organizations’ commitment to being part of the opportunity youth movement in San Diego, and now, with its like-minded goals, the Jacobs Center is joining forces.

“The San Diego Workforce Partnership agreed to direct significant resources into improving opportunities for students beyond the classroom,” said Carlos O. Turner Cortez, Ph.D., President of SDCE. “That partnership, and specifically the additional support of paid internships for students, helped SDCE meet a goal to serve 60 students in the Gateway program.” 


SDG2CC: Affiliated with a National Model Network 

The SDG2CC initiative at SDCE supports opportunity youth using a learning community model that offers instructional services and wrap around supports such as career pathway training, support to complete secondary school, intensive case management, life skills, job preparation workshops, connections to industry and employers through paid internships and job placement, and college transition support. 

Students in SDG2CC participate in an intensive 40-hour college and career readiness course to help determine and create viable pathways to a career and/or college.

“Central to our mission is to connect and leverage our regional systems and partners,” said Peter Callstrom, CEO of the San Diego Workforce Partnership. “Supporting Continuing Education’s Gateway students is an example of the tremendous impact we can make by supporting educational partners throughout the region.”

Students also participate in special activities and workshops to focus skill building in areas of financial literacy, youth leadership, career exploration, job readiness, community service and creative expression.

“Intensive case management and paid work experience in the student’s field of study limits the number of students we can serve,” explained Laurie Coskey, Ed.D., SDG2CC’s Executive Director. “This new partnership with the Jacobs Center will allow SDCE to double the number of students served to as high as 120 this year, and to as many as 200 next year.”

Community Partners 

SDWP and now the Jacobs Center are two of many organizations in San Diego who partner with SDCE on the SDG2CC initiative. Others include the San Diego Youth Development Office, San Diego Unified School District, Office of Secondary Schools (including the Adult Education and TRACE programs), Rise San Diego and Second Chance.

“The Jacobs Center has a history of collaboration with local leaders and organizations in Southeastern San Diego,” said Reginald Jones, President and CEO of the Jacob Center for Neighborhood Innovation. “This partnership with SDCE will help revitalize the community by creating a clear path and assistance for individuals seeking education and employment.”


Transition to Free College

Students attend free classes to complete a high school diploma/equivalency or a job training certificate. Case managers offer individualized help with college applications, enrollment questions and understanding financial aid options.

Successful completion of a certificate at SDCE can also be applied toward college credit requirements for select college programs. For example, when students complete SDCE’s Auto Technician certificate, up to 18 credits can be allowed toward the Automotive Technology Associate degree at Miramar College.

Students are encouraged to apply for the San Diego Promise, which is a scholarship that pays for tuition, fees and books for students who transition to City, Mesa or Miramar College. Every SDG2CC student is eligible for the scholarship.


Direct Pathways to Career

Students attend free career training classes that lead to certificates of completion in more than 70 industry areas including healthcare careers, welding and business. SDG2CC places students in paid internships and other opportunities for experiential learning in high demand, middle-skill occupations.

Supports transition students to workforce, including job shadowing, job interview workshops, resume development, and financial supports for job-related costs such as tools, uniforms or transportation to and from work.


Support the Opportunity Youth Movement

Community organizations, religious organizations, and businesses can meet social responsibility goals by sharing ideas and resources that help SDG2CC provide meaningful curriculum and employment opportunities for students.

Individual donations to provide ongoing critical support for opportunity youth can also be made directly to SDG2CC. 

Commit to being part of the opportunity youth movement in San Diego and find out how you can help. Contact the Program’s Executive Director, Laurie Coskey, Ed.D. at

Details of the SDCE and Jacobs Center partnership include $300,000 in funding from the James Irvine Foundation to be distributed over the next academic year. Under the auspices of SDG2CC, SDCE will also assume the program operation for the Inspire Youth Careers Program developed by the Jacobs Center.


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San Diego Continuing Education is the adult education division of the San Diego Community College District. It was one of the first community college continuing education institutions in California to meet the standards for independent accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Approximately 40,000 students are served per academic year at seven campuses in San Diego. Noncredit classes and career training are available at no cost, including online options.

Classes are free because San Diego Continuing Education is part of the California system of higher education. Funding also comes through business and industry partnerships. Learn more at