San Diego Continuing Education Named Entrepreneurial College of the Year

San Diego Continuing Education (SDCE) has been named Heather Van Sickle Entrepreneurial College of the Year by the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE). The prestigious honor will be given in recognition of the institution’s groundbreaking innovation, strong commitment to social justice and equity through entrepreneurship.

“We are very excited to be chosen,” said SDCE President, Carlos O. Turner Cortez, Ph.D., “The NACCE award speaks highly to SDCE’s innovative culture and who we will continue to be, a higher education institution founded on the principles of inclusion, social justice and entrepreneurship, that strives to improve the future of all students.”

SDCE provides free career technical education in emerging fields such as Advanced Manufacturing, Health, and Information and Communication Technologies for adult learners, who are among the most diverse in the state culturally, ethnically and academically.

“Many middle-skills jobs require more than a high school education but less than a four-year college degree,” said President Turner Cortez. “Upon completion of an SDCE career training program and entering the workforce, graduates are earning significantly above minimum wage.”

“Community colleges can be life changing for people. They provide a gateway to the middle class,” said NACCE President and CEO, Dr. Rebecca Corbin. “We are delighted to shine the spotlight on SDCE. They really set the bar high in serving over 40,000 students. They have a number of success stories and are improving and building many innovative projects that support the gig economy.”

President Turner Cortez will be presented with the Heather Van Sickle Entrepreneurial College of the Year award during NACCE’s annual conference, Entrepreneurship Explorations, on Tuesday, October 15, 2019, in Newport Beach. “It’s an honor to be a part of the NACCE community. Dr. Rebecca Corbin and her team do amazing work in proactively advocating for career technical education to policy makers on the local, state and national levels,” he said.

NACCE recognizes SDCE in the following areas of innovation: instruction, student success resources, community collaboration, career services, and revenue-generating enterprise.

Over the last four years, the institution has experienced strategic enrollment growth through the expansion of free distance education offerings and the modernization of career education including: the development of two new certificate programs, Small Business Planning and Small Business Growth.

SDCE implemented dynamic learning communities and maker spaces which includes the state’s only Construction Trades Apprenticeship Readiness Internship for young adults. The trades focused classroom education is taught simultaneously with on-the-job training, students earn their OSHA 10, CPR/First Aid, and Boom/Scissor Lift certifications, qualifying graduates for union apprenticeship programs.

SDCE partnered with key community organizations, San Diego Workforce Partnership, Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation and Tech/Hire, to bridge equity gaps in California’s workforce and to ensure students achieve career training placement in priority sectors with precise education and job readiness skills that local employers are looking for.

SDCE continues to scale innovative learning through a new fully online educational program, ICOM Academy (Interactive Competency-based Online Micro-credentialing Academy). “Our digital platform could potentially house hundreds of online career options for adults, but initial plans for the fall 2020 launch will have a focus on Small Business Entrepreneurship and Information Technology,” said President Turner Cortez. “These added flexible learning options will enhance career opportunities across the state.”

“ICOM Academy has been designed with adult learners in mind,” said Michelle Fischthal, D.B.A., SDCE’s Vice President of Instruction. “The relationship between students and faculty is critical in adult online instruction. ICOM Academy brings this critical piece of learning into the virtual classroom.”