Merced County awarded $500,000 for health, automotive education

Merced County has been awarded nearly $500,000 for a "Bridges to Success" program that will help high school students gain skills in the health and automotive fields.

The federal program is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Merced is one of seven counties to receive a grant from the $3.5 million program.

The money will be used by the Merced County Workforce Investment Board, Merced County Office of Education and Regional Occupational Program.

The agencies will teach 100 at-risk high school students through paid internships.

Organizers said the program will help Merced County by reducing high school dropout rates, helping high school students earn industry -recognized certificates and providing job training for residents 16 to 18 years old.

-- Danielle E. Gaines