James Brescia
SLO County Superintendent James Brescia

A question all Americans should ponder is how we guide the next generation. Community leaders hope for solid, decent, well-rounded young people who will value their families, strengthen their communities, and uphold the democratic values of our civil society. The future of humanity depends on success in fostering the next generation’s healthy intellectual development and curiosity. The students that fill our classrooms today will become the citizens, leaders, workers, and parents of tomorrow. If we invest wisely in these young people who are our greatest assets, the next generation will pay that investment back through a lifetime of productivity and responsible citizenship. If we fail to invest in building a solid foundation, we put our future prosperity and our national security at risk. Tools for fostering engagement such as summer employment opportunities, internships, summer enrichment, outdoor education, Career and Technical Education (CTE), Pre-Apprenticeships, and the arts are all programs promoted by the San Luis Obispo County Office of Education.

Research in the neurosciences has pointed toward powerful new ways of understanding what our children require to achieve optimum learning and development. Cognitive, emotional, and social capabilities are strongly connected to events throughout one’s life during the school year, weekends, and school breaks. The building blocks of learning provide a strong foundation for cognitive abilities throughout life. Together these experiences are the bricks and mortar that comprise the foundation of human development. In other words, learning is not just an academic activity that is confined to the classroom. Learning is part of a complex and ongoing developmental process in the community, the theatre, auto shops, and the garden. Extend learning through community activities such as summer sessions, library summer reading programs, local summer camps, community-based summer youth programs, summer arts programs, and even a “Summer Bridge Program.”


Summer Bridge Programs have grown more common in recent years. The programs vary widely in format, goals, participants, and quality. The length of time and intensity can range from a simple two-day orientation to a six-week advanced skills camp. The content of the summer programs depends on the duration, available funding, staffing, and program goals. Participation can range from an open invitation to a narrow focus, such as for those struggling with school or employment. Summer Bridge Programs can be coordinated by a single agency, a consortium of agencies, a community college, a university, a community organization, or any combination.

The San Luis Obispo County Office of Education’s 2023 Summer Bridge Program partners with local businesses, Chambers of Commerce, local education agencies, and local workforce programs to support our community’s youth. This summer’s program is funded from various sources, including county funds, state education funds, and a grant from the MOCA Foundation. The program is designed to foster a connection between academic skills, career interests, and future employment opportunities. The program content consists of a series of life skills and professional development activities designed to enhance confidence and improve the employability of program participants. Educators, employers, and non-profit agencies provide participants with direct instruction and employment support. SLO Partners, the lead agency hosting the Summer Bridge Program, is enrolling three cohorts of 25 youth each in northern, southern, and central San Luis Obispo County. As your County Superintendent of Schools, I am committed to promoting future careers that are locally grown.


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