The Valley Industry Association is set to receive $675,000 in federal appropriations funding to expand its Connecting to Success program, a workforce preparation program for youth in a business conference format, VIA announced in a news release.
VIA’s release said the funds were secured through support and assistance from Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita.
“Congressman Mike Garcia was absolutely instrumental in securing these dollars specifically to support the Connecting to Success program,” VIA CEO/President Kathy Norris said in the statement. “His dedication to the students of the Santa Clarita Valley is unparalleled and will allow us to create a program that serves not only the students of our valley but also the SCV business community through a well-trained and appropriately skilled emerging workforce.”
Ed Masterson, VIA’s vice chair of workforce development, echoed Norris’ sentiment.
“I would like to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to Congressman Mike Garcia and his staff for their dedicated efforts in securing this most important funding for VIA’s Connecting to Success program,” Masterson said in the statement.
The funds provided will allow for expansion of the program, which Masterson defined as an immersive education/business experience for local high school youth.
VIA leadership received a congratulatory statement from Garcia, who said, “I am proud to have helped the Valley Industry Association secure $675,000 in community project funding for their ‘Connecting to Success’ program. This funding will go towards training thousands of students in the Santa Clarita Valley to develop their skills and workforce preparation, and to connect these students with potential employers. Work like this that VIA does is a large part of the reason why so many of our students are finding success upon graduation, securing good-paying jobs, and continuing to bless our community by settling down in the Santa Clarita Valley to raise a family and live a meaningful life.”
According to the House of Representatives website, house.gov, federal appropriations are U.S. Treasury funds set aside for a specific purpose and are decided by Congress through various committees. Annual appropriations, such as what VIA has received, are made for a specific fiscal year, and expire after one year.
Norris said she is certain Garcia received dozens of appropriations requests. “We were fortunate enough that ours was one of the ones he chose to approve and support for 2023. We’ve applied twice, so seeing it come to fruition this time was amazing.”
She anticipates the funds will be received within the next 60 days and will be put to use immediately.
VIA has been serving SCV business and industry since 1981, and for the past two decades has worked to provide high school students in the SCV an ability to think about their future and connect to potential careers, the statement said. More than 35,000 students have participated in the program.
“The program works because the presenters are business professionals,” Norris said, “individuals who could actually be future employers of the attending students. We work with approximately 80 local business professionals each year to deliver the program. The enhanced offering, thanks to the appropriations funding, will require more of those individuals, plus instructional videos, follow-up sessions, internships, mentorships, forums, special events, and more.”
The new funding will also allow VIA to include the teaching of additional professional skills identified by the SCV business community as critical for a successful career future for program participants, Norris said.
To learn more about VIA and its Connecting to Success and other programs, visit via.org/connecting-to-success.