College of Marin Gets $200K Grant for Career Training Online

College of Marin is proposing to add nine new job-focused online certificate and degree programs in multimedia studies, hospitality management and business as part of a $200,000 grant from the state.

David Wain Coon, the college president, said the one-time grant was part of $27.5 million awarded earlier this month to 70 California community colleges in support of online programs in career technical education, or CTE. Formerly called vocational education, CTE has been expanded beyond trade school curricula to encompass modern tech careers.

“As we continue developing curriculum in response to the needs of our local economy, this funding will allow the college to expand offerings and reach students who might not otherwise have access to these classes,” Wain Coon said in an email. “Once they enroll, support services like financial aid information, counseling, and guidance in finding internships will be there to help ensure their success both as a student and as part of the workforce.”

Wain Coon said the grants are administered by the Foothill-De Anza Community College District, which serves as the fiscal agent. The timeline for the grant is the 2019-20 fiscal year. COM will use the grant to expand its online certificate and degree programs, he said.

“The primary focus of COM’s proposed project, ‘Creating Online CTE Pathways,’ is to develop new online and hybrid CTE certificates and degree programs,” Jonathan Eldridge, a vice president at College of Marin, said in an email. “These programs are already developed as on-campus programs with less than 50% of the respective courses offered online. Currently, COM does not offer fully online degrees or certificates.”

Eldridge said the proposed online certificate and degree programs include business administration, hospitality management, multimedia studies, entertainment, graphic design and web design.

Eldridge added that “additional nine-unit, short-term certificates in multimedia graphic design and digital illustration will also be developed. These certificates will provide ‘upskilling’ opportunities for employees currently working in the field. These short-term certificates will also be ‘ladder’ certificates, which can lead to degree completion.”

The grant award comes on the heels of a critical report on Marin’s career technical education progress by the Marin County Civil Grand Jury. The grand jury’s report, issued earlier this month, said Marin’s K-12 schools and colleges could do a better job in communicating CTE options for students — and that students who might be able to benefit from such communications were “underserved.”

Eldridge said the grand jury’s report failed to fully recognize existing CTE partnerships between the K-12 schools and College of Marin.

“The Marin County Civil Grand Jury report focused on CTE offerings at the secondary level, and presupposed that not all students would or should continue with post-secondary coursework,” Eldridge said. “As noted before, College of Marin has partnerships with local high schools that allow students to complete much of a CTE program by high school graduation.”

“It is important to understand with technical education that re-certifications, upskilling, and learning evolving technologies/new equipment requires continuing education,” Eldridge added. “The purpose of this grant is to expand and enhance opportunities for students in CTE programs to complete their educational goals by offering required courses and general education courses in online/hybrid formats.”

According to Eldridge, a third of the students in the state community college system take at least one class online.

“The expansion of College of Marin’s existing distance education program to include CTE and four-year college transfer degrees, certificates and credentials will provide the community with access to high-quality online programs and student support services,” he said.