South Bay Community Services to Provide Pay for Success Project

August 10, 2017

By Andrea Lopez-Villafaña

Courtesy of SBCS

South Bay Community Services is one of four education sites in the nation that will provide a program focused on career and technical education known as Pay for Success.

Through a $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education, two nonprofit organizations, Social Finance and Jobs for the Future, awarded four sites to participate in the largest single Pay for Success grant in the department’s history, according to a release.

The San Diego County nonprofit that provides services and programs to children, youth and families, was the only site in California to be awarded. SBCS plans on applying a framework known as “Back on Track” by Jobs for the Future that focuses on helping youth who are off track to graduation and helping them through postsecondary credentials.

“I didn’t have a role model. I didn’t have anyone to look up to,” Eric Salazar said. “One day I found South Bay Community Services (SBCS) and dropped into their (youth center) to use computers and receive some support. That’s when I met Jose.”

Salazar entered the foster care system when he was 10 years old and although he knew education was important, life got in the way and he had to enter the workforce. Salazar met Jose Mondragon a career coach for SBCS under the Back on Track initiative and he was encouraged to look beyond.

“I was working at Little Cesar’s. I told Jose I did want to go back to school someday, but I needed to work and that it would have to wait for another year. But he said why wait, you can do it now and find an internship that pays,” Salazar said.

Mondragon helped Salazar apply for financial aid, scholarships, and internships. Salazar is currently a fulltime student at Southwestern College and has a paid internship with the County of San Diego.

“I feel blessed and thankful. I talk with Jose almost every other day. He is very supportive. I’m not exactly sure what my specific degree focus will be but I know that I will eventually transfer to university and reach my goal. Maybe I will be able to be the director a group home and help kids who are going through what I went through,” Salazar said.

Pay for Success is a funding model that aims to advance high-quality career and technical education. The program works as a public-private partnership by combining nonprofit expertise, private funding, and independent evaluation to change how government leaders respond to social issues.

“Today’s economy demands a better educated workforce than ever before with more technical skills needed than in the past,” SBCS CEO and President Kathryn Lembo said in the release. “We are honored to partner with Social Finance and Jobs for the Future to support our young people’s career and technical education so that they may be competitive and gain stable high-paying jobs.”

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