California: Career Pathways Trust

The California Career Pathways Trust (CCPT) was first authorized in the California legislature's 2013-14 education budget and ultimately contributed $500 million in funding to support and expand career pathways across the state. While California’s education budget is larger than most states, CCPT nonetheless demonstrates how states can leverage the resources at their disposal to promote high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE), prepare students to transition to meaningful careers, and encourage new and ongoing partnerships between education and industry.

CCPT was created and passed by the state legislature in the 2013-14 education budget through Assembly Bill 86. The budget appropriated $250 million for one-time competitive grants to consortia of school districts, charter schools, community colleges and businesses. The aim of the program was to:

  • support seamless career pathways from grades K-14;
  • promote cross-sector collaboration in support of effective CTE;
  • develop programs of study aligned to high-need, high-growth sectors;
  • establish articulated pathways to postsecondary education; and
  • leverage existing funding and programs to sustain strong career pathways. 

The legislation also required grant recipients and private-sector partners to commit additional resources. 

As a competitive grant, the CCPT provided an opportunity for the California Department of Education (CDE) to define the components of high quality career pathways, focus on alignment of secondary and post-secondary career education, and encourage quality practices such as dual credit courses and student and teacher internships. In the first round alone, more than 120 institutions submitted applications in response to the Request for Application. Round one grants were awarded in 2014 to 39 consortia. 

In 2014 the legislature affirmed its support for the program with Senate Bill 858, which formally established the Career Pathways Trust Grant and appropriated an additional $250 million to support a second cohort of grant recipients. Round two grants were awarded to 40 consortia across the state. 

Senate Bill 858 also authorized the State Superintendent of Public Instruction to set aside 1 percent of CCPT funds to provide planning grants and technical assistance. In 2015, additional grants amounting to $4.5 million were awarded through this set-aside to support consortium development and implementation. 


Policy in Action

An independent evaluation by Jobs for the Future found that, after two years of implementation, the CCPT grants had been used effecitvely to build partnerships and strengthen the quality of regional career pathways. Drawing on interviews with local administrators and partners, the report describes cases where CCPT helped align vertical pathways from secondary to postsecondary education, establish new work-based learning opportunities, hire intermediary staff to build connections with employer partners, and catalyze stakeholder partnerships. According to the report, the CCPT also highlighted the need for a more robust, aligned data system with shared indicators and definitions across different sectors.

Use of the CCPT grant funds varies depending on each region’s need. Santa Ana Unified School District, for example, used its $6 million award to develop an eight-week internship program for students to get hands-on experience working with expert engineers and scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion laboratory. Students in the internship program worked full-time over the summer, had the opportunity to participate in staff meetings and ongoing projects, and were compensated with funding from a local industry partner. Countless other examples demonstrate how grant recipients are using CCPT funds to engage local education and business partners to expand CTE programs in high-demand industries.


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Last Updated May 2019

Resource type(s): 
July 2013