Grant to get kids on career paths

Stanislaus County has received half a million dollars to help area at-risk youth through a new summer program.

The $500,000 grant is part of $3.4 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act money distributed to seven California counties. The federal stimulus cash is aimed at helping nearly 1,000 at-risk high school students graduate and find careers.

In Stanislaus County, Alliance Worknet and the Ceres Unified School District will administer the program. It will be open to at-risk students and recent dropouts ages 16 to 18 across the county.

The Bridges to Success program will give about 80 students in the county career counseling, vocational training and a paid summer job in their field of interest.

Jeff Rowe, director of Alliance Worknet, said participating students at risk of dropping out will be given help to finish high school and those who have dropped out will be given help to earn a general equivalency diploma. The program will also help guide them toward a career path and provide a two- to three-month summer job at an area business.

"The nice thing about this program is it's not just a summer job. It is continued training in the occupation that the student has chosen for a potential career," Rowe said.

Students will be selected from alternative schools in the county and by reference from social services and community agencies. Selection is under way and interested students may apply for the program.

The other counties to receive money were Merced, Contra Costa, San Diego, San Francisco, Imperial and Los Angeles.

For more information or to apply for the program, contact Dustin Pack with the Ceres Unified School District at 556-1558.

Bee staff writer Marijke Rowland can be reached at or 578-2284.