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SLO Partners and Workforce Development Boards Secure $2m Grant to Expand Apprenticeship Programs

The non-profit is looking to hear from businesses to determine future talent needs of the Central Coast  


[San Luis Obispo, CA, September, 2022] SLO Partners, an initiative of the San Luis Obispo County Office of Education, together with the SLO Workforce Development Board and Santa Barbara Workforce Development Board, today announced a $2m grant has been secured to expand apprenticeship programs across the Central Coast. 


The grant was awarded by the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) and its Division of Apprenticeship Standards (DAS) to expand apprenticeships in California to underserved communities, including women, people of color, justice-involved persons, people with disabilities, veterans and youth. Apprenticeship programs have evolved to offer training across a broad range of industries such as marketing and software development, in addition to traditional career paths in building trades and manufacturing. 


SLO Partners, the leading provider of career upskilling and modern apprenticeship programs in California, worked with the San Luis Obispo Workforce Development Board and the Santa Barbara Workforce Development Board to secure the grant. The funds will be used to replicate SLO Partners’ award-winning SLO-based programs in Santa Barbara, and create a new training program in San Luis Obispo and the new Santa Barbara location.  


“We’ve seen how successful apprenticeship programs have been in SLO and we’re keen to utilize apprenticeship to support workforce development and local businesses in Santa Barbara,” said Raymond L. McDonald, Executive Director, Santa Barbara County Workforce Development Board. “Our mission is to help those who have the most barriers to getting jobs along with people most affected by the downturn. Apprenticeship is a good avenue to train and get them into a well-paying career path.” 


Paula Mathias Fryer, Senior Director of SLO Partners added, “the grant will play a significant role in future-proofing the economies of SLO County and Santa Barbara by creating talent pipelines that will meet current and future needs of local businesses across a broad range of sectors - from aerospace and education to accounting and manufacturing. Expanding our programs will also create more opportunities to get locals on paths to head of household careers, and enable them to stay in the area.”  


“Apprenticeship has played a significant role in solving two key challenges of the Central Coast - the expensive cost of living, and finding skilled workers,” said Dawn Boulanger, Workforce Development Board Director, County of San Luis Obispo. “We’re pleased the value of apprenticeship is being recognized and we’re looking forward to expanding the programs to benefit more residents and businesses in the region.” 


SLO Partners will be launching a brand awareness campaign called ‘Up the Coast’ to educate residents on the value of upskilling and how it can help people stay on the Central Coast.  


SLO Partners would like input from local businesses to determine what the new apprenticeship program should be. Contact to share your talent needs.




About SLO Partners (

SLO Partners is a leading provider of career upskilling and modern apprenticeship programs in California and a winner of the 2020 CA Partnership for Industry and Education award. Formed in 2014 as an initiative of the San Luis Obispo County Office of Education, its mission is to create accelerated career-pathways allowing residents to earn head-of-household incomes, while simultaneously solving a skilled talent shortage for local, growing businesses. The nonprofit has produced several intensive upskilling programs: FullStack Software Developer, Software Testing, IT Networking, Precision Manufacturing and Digital Marketing. Together, these have produced over 150 career opportunities in SLO County in tech and manufacturing roles creating a $5M local annual economic impact. For more information watch the ‘SLO Partners: How it Works’ video and visit

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