Ventura Unified making news

DATA launches its second cohort of this STEAM-focused program.

When Casey Stoops, Head of Patagonia’s Global Information Security and Core Technology and Scott Reed, Senior Account Executive at ePlus reached out to DeAnza Academy of Technology & the Arts’ (DATA) Principal Carlos Cohen to see if he wanted to launch a GRIT pilot program, he enthusiastically said, “Yes!”. GRIT, Girls RE-Imagining Tomorrow, was founded in 2017 by ePlus Technology in partnership with Cisco and a small group of girls on the East Coast in response to the increasing shortage of cybersecurity professionals worldwide, particularly women. GRIT was started to help girls understand what is available and what they can aspire to and to encourage them to consider careers in technology – girls can then re-imagine their tomorrow. The program has since grown to seven schools across the nation, including DATA. 

GRIT’s mission is to introduce diverse groups of middle school and high school girls to technology-focused career possibilities, inspiring curiosity and exploration in various areas of STEM. In addition, they seek to build confidence in these young women by providing mentorship and holistically approaching these young ladies in the areas of public speaking, online safety, and business etiquette.  

Last year’s DATA cohort, which began in January of 2022, participated in two visits to Patagonia’s office spaces in Ventura. One was to their corporate office, where students were able to see its IT/cybersecurity infrastructure, marketing, and work/lifestyle spaces, and the second trip was to their Research & Development “Forge,” where they saw the social and physical science that goes into making and selling a Patagonia product.

This year’s Cohort will try to get out into the community monthly with its next visit to Fathomwerx. Fathomwerx is a public-private laboratory, community, and resource for technological innovation that fuses small and non-traditional companies, academic institutions, and other Department of Defense stakeholders to work on the most challenging problems in the port and maritime domains. The students will be building a drone while they are there. 

This program has been such a hit with the middle school girls at DATA a long waitlist was created at the beginning of the year. Instead of turning down a group of girls interested in STEAM, the DATA team created a GRIT club. This club includes the students chosen to be a part of the Cohort and any other girls at DATA who want to participate. The club is bringing guest speakers to campus and coordinating field trips to other STEAM sites throughout the year. They are also working on opportunities for goal setting when it comes time to select their high school classes as freshmen.

The Ventura Unified School District (VUSD) has been awarded $1,000,000 in 2022-2023 K12 Strong Workforce Program (SWP) funds. VUSD is one of ten Local Education Agencies (LEAs) to be funded by the South Central Coast Regional Consortium (SCCRC) and will use the funds to create a new Public Safety/Emergency Response Career Technical Education (CTE) pathway at Buena High School. 

VUSD’s strong partnership with Ventura College, Oxnard College, Ventura Police Department, Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, Ventura County Fire Department, Ventura County District Attorney’s Office, and other community partners will allow the District to design and implement a robust and relevant pathway for high school students to transition into high-wage high-demand careers in Public Safety and Emergency Response after graduation. This pathway will be available to all high school students in the District via multi-site agreements.


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