cabrillo college
Cabrillo College Watsonville Center. —file photo by Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian

Cabrillo College announced Oct. 10 that it is the recipient of a five-year, $3 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE).

The Abriendo El Camino: Connecting & Supporting High School Students into Structured College & Career Pathways grant aims to strengthen career pathways and dual enrollment of high school students. The grant is designed to link students to careers in biotechnology, health sciences, and education.

“Abriendo” is the Spanish word for “open,” and “el camino” refers to “path” or “road.”

College officials say the name connects to its Guided Pathways initiative, which aims to guide students through their college journey.

The federal funding comes for the USDOE Title V Developing Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI) competitive grant program. Cabrillo is one of only 80 colleges nationwide to receive a grant. The grant comes on the heels of an earlier grant in 2020 designed to strengthen pathways relationships between Cabrillo and CSU Monterey Bay.

“We are tremendously excited about the way this funding will build out our Guided Pathways efforts across segments of the high school to college to career pipeline,” Robin McFarland, interim vice president of instruction, said in a press release. “This is an exciting partnership that will help our students enter the workforce with better preparation and the support that they need to thrive.”

The school says it will use the funds to partner with Pajaro Valley Unified School District (PVUSD) to better align pathways between Cabrillo and local high schools, promote more dual enrollment, and provide mentoring and student support experiences that will accelerate completion of college degrees and transfer to four-year universities.  

“PVUSD is honored to support the intentional collaboration this federal Title V Developing HSI grant award ‘Abriendo El Camino’ will fund to provide focused connection, expanded dual enrollment and other support for PVUSD students from Cabrillo Learning Communities,” said Michelle Rodriguez, PVUSD Superintendent of Schools. “PVUSD and Cabrillo are transforming systems together to increase equity of outcomes in structured pathways as we prepare students in our community for college, career and life.”

Grant funds will help hire staff and student mentors to provide career guidance, counseling and mentoring, along with professional development for faculty. It also provides money for family engagement and education about financial aid. 

“Grants like this represent an important investment in local students and their future careers,” Congressman Jimmy Panetta said in a press release. “As someone who went to a community college, it is particularly meaningful to support these types of institutions. Community colleges are often the gateway to economic and social mobility for students that are underrepresented in key career sectors. This is an exciting opportunity for students in our region to accelerate their completion of college degrees.”

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  1. actually, “abriendo” ( the present progressive tense of the verb to open) , is the Spanish word for OPENING. and that is what the program is designed to do.
    As just one Cabrillo trustee, I am so proud that we have received this grant. this will assist many students from low income families to achieve their diploma or certificate goals while at our community college.
    Michelle is correct. we need to level the playing field, so to speak, to have more successful outcomes. poverty acts as a huge pothole in the field of dreams.

  2. Cabrillo will need all the financial assistance it can get once their funding based on enrollment right sizes.

    The college has been deferring their enrollment numbers for the past 4 years and its going to catch up to the college real quick. Once it does, there will be cuts galore without grants such as this.

    The grants won’t keep the college afloat forever though, and without more community bought into the college, the hopes of a bond are futile (see previous last two attempts in 5 years).

    The college name change will not help with this buy in, as most folks who vote are opposed to the name change. Not to mention, trustees like Steve have been proclaiming support for the name change long before hearing what their constituents want.

    Want to verify the college is in trouble? Take a look at all of the turnover at the top level management spots over the past 4 years. VP Instruction, VP Student Services, Dean of Watsonville Center, Dean of BELA, Dean of HAWK, and practically all of Finance and Admin Services management, including Director of Budget and Fiscal Services, which they have not replaced in over two months. I wonder why…

  3. on another Cabrillo issue, the trustees will vote at our board meeting November 14 to decide if we will change the name of the college . I will vote YES. i do not speak for the college or the other members of the board.


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