Grant applications totaling just over $709 million have been submitted for a piece of the California Career Pathways Trust, a one-time grant program to fund job training programs for students, according to updated figures provided Thursday by the California Department of Education.

As anticipated, the applications far exceed the $250 million available in the program, created last year at the urging of Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento. The competitive grant fund encourages partnerships between schools, community colleges and businesses to create and strengthen programs that offer real-world work experiences to students.

The state Department of Education received 123 eligible applications seeking a grant, officials said. Of those, 26 were from community college districts, 16 were from county offices of education, 17 were from charter schools, and 64 were from K-12 districts. The funding requests totaled $709,050,488.

The department expects to award $15 million grants to 10 regional partnerships. Another 15 successful grant applicants will receive $6 million and up to 15 grants for $600,000 will also be awarded. The state department intends to announce the grant awards May 23.

Noting the keen interest, Steinberg said he will work to secure additional funding for the Career Pathways Trust in this year’s budget. “We’ve got to go back and do another $250 million,” Steinberg said at a workforce preparation event in Sacramento.

new poll by the Public Policy Institute of California shows that a majority of Californians support career technical education in schools, Steinberg noted. Seventy-three percent of adults said it is “very important” that public schools include career preparation programs as part of the curriculum, the poll said, yet only 41 percent of those surveyed said they feel schools are doing an “excellent” or “good” job preparing students for the work place.

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