Thursday, May 13, 2021
Career & WorkplaceEducation

More than 300 Local Leaders Attend Inaugural Inland Empire Education and Workforce Readiness Summit to Support Students Seeking Post-Pandemic Careers

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The sold-out event, hosted in partnership with Think Together and the Inland Empire Regional Chamber of Commerce, aimed at fostering collaboration among County, State and Business Leaders

Think Together, California’s leading nonprofit provider of afterschool, expanded learning and school improvement programs, in partnership with the Inland Empire Regional Chamber of Commerce, hosted the 2021 Inland Empire Education and Workforce Readiness Summit virtually on Wednesday, April 7, bringing together more than 300 leaders in the public, education and nonprofit sectors.

The event opened with Dr. Robin Avelar La Salle, CEO of Orenda Education, who spoke to the opportunities and challenges educators experience as they navigate the ever-changing landscape toward reopening schools. The key to overcoming those challenges, according to Dr. La Salle, will be realizing that our plans must be fluid and our systemic issues resolved. 

“We have demographics determining destiny. We have students graduating that are not prepared at the level that the workforce wants them to be at and the level that universities want them to be at,” said Dr. La Salle. “If we lead with our educational equity foot forward, and then we check that against whether kids are on campus. And we check that against whether they’re safe. Then, we can lead, remembering our mission is to have an educated populace, and we will be successful in overcoming our collective challenges.”

Keynote speaker Dr. Angelo Farooq, Chairman of the California Workforce Development Board, followed, providing his unique perspective on the social, emotional impact youth are experiencing due to the pandemic and how this will affect their future well into their working years. 

“The devastating impacts of the pandemic can be an opportunity to frame a compelling call to action for our youth,” said Dr. Farooq in an emotional speech calling for community collaboration. “Let’s harness the emotional compassion each of us are feeling for our children and let it be a rallying cry to mobilize, hopefully, what could be the most transformative community engagement that any generation has ever witnessed, because that’s what this generation of youth deserve.”

The event was rounded out by Inland Empire Regional Chamber CEO Edward Ornelas who facilitated a discussion on how to help youth overcome the anticipated long-term impacts of COVID-19 on academic achievement, college and career readiness. Panelists included: 

  • Randy Barth, Founder and CEO of Think Together
  • Ted Alejandre, Superintendent at San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools
  • Dr. Angelo Farooq, Chairman of the California Workforce Development Board (CWDB)
  • Dr. Edwin Gomez, Riverside County Superintendent of Schools

“The responsibility to ensure students have the skills needed to be successful in college and career isn’t just the educator’s responsibility,” said Ornelas. “It takes a village. It takes business partnerships. And it takes people who care working together to find opportunities for the next generation of our workforce.”

The event, which was free to attend, aimed to create cross-collaboration and constructive solutions for ensuring students impacted by COVID-19 are equipped with the necessary academic, technical, and soft skills needed to succeed in today’s economy.

“In today’s COVID-19 environment, it’s more important than ever that we work collaboratively across public, private and nonprofit sectors to ensure the next generation of talent has the skills they need to be successful,” said Randy Barth, Founder and CEO of Think Together. “Student learning recovery will be key across all grades, as well as the development of job skills like critical thinking, collaboration and creativity.”

The 2021 Inland Empire Education and Workforce Readiness Summit is proudly sponsored by

Bank of America and supported by Riverside County Workforce Development Centers, the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools and San Bernardino County.  
Those interested can watch the Inaugural Inland Empire Education and Workforce Readiness Summit on YouTube. Those looking to get involved with Think Together can visit: www.thinktogether.org/get-involved.

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Inland Empire Business Journal
The Inland Empire Business Journal (IEBJ) is the official business news publication of Southern California’s Inland Empire region - covering San Bernardino & Riverside Counties.