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Earn & Learn East Bay

Apr 03, 2017 11:54AM ● By Becky Coburn

Photo: Nilton Serva speaks about his Earn & Learn East Bay experience. Photo by Erin Brooks

By Mark Orcutt, Contra Costa Economic Partnership

When Nilton Serva was released from his second juvenile incarceration, he was on the verge of homelessness. Then the Los Medanos College student was connected to Earn & Learn East Bay and earned an opportunity to work at Costco Wholesale. Throughout the course of his paid internship, he not only experienced his first job interview but also was inspired to continue his education and pursue a degree in business administration.

Two hundred business and education leaders gathered in Concord to celebrate employers engaged in Earn & Learn East Bay, which has provided thousands of work and learning opportunities to local youth since 2009.

“The secret to Earn & Learn East Bay’s success is the single point of contact for employers,” said Kristin Connelly, executive director of the Contra Costa Economic Partnership and a managing partner of the effort. The regional initiative connects employers with the East Bay’s many school districts and community colleges without requiring employers to coordinate with dozens of educators.

Bobby Ram, managing director of Sunpower Corporation, noted the retention problems that companies face when they rely on recruiting talent from around the globe rather than across the street. “Earn & Learn East Bay is not just an investment in our young people’s future but an investment in our own business success,” said Ram.

That kind of leadership by local business leaders provides life-changing experiences for local youth like Nilton Serva. “One day I want to create companies that will be able to give opportunities to young people like Earn & Learn East Bay gave to me,” said Nilton.

Earn & Learn East Bay is a collaboration of the Contra Costa Economic Partnership and the Workforce Development Board of Contra Costa County with the Diablo Gateways to Innovation Consortium.