VIA receives $675,000 to expand signature program 

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News release 

The Valley Industry Association will significantly expand its “Connecting to Success” program this fall thanks to new funding from the federal government, VIA announced in a prepared statement.  

Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, helped VIA obtain a $675,000 grant through the U.S. Small Business Administration to grow the program to feature intensive, interactive one-day workshops plus new key opportunities such as internships, mentorships, and job-shadows to benefit Santa Clarita Valley high school juniors, according to VIA.  

The students gain specialized training in communications, financial literacy, decision making, conflict resolution, and other important professional and interpersonal skills to both prepare for and gain competitive advantages in the workplace, the release said.  

VIA will also be expanding with additional large-scale events focused on workforce development for the business community and a CEO forum focused on education, the release said.   

“The VIA Connecting to Success Program helps students unlock their true potential and pave their pathway to success,” state Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, said in the release. “By empowering students to harness their strengths and navigate life’s challenges with resilience and purpose, this important workforce readiness program not only prepares students for their futures, but also assures businesses that there will be a steady supply of well-trained workers entering the workforce.”  

Santa Clarita Mayor Jason Gibbs offered kudos to the program as well.  

“I fully support the work being done by the Valley Industry Association to ready our future workforce,” Gibbs said in the release. “VIA’s Connecting to Success lights the path towards personal and professional growth, offering a multitude of benefits that ripple through students, communities and industries. By nurturing self-discovery, honing critical skills, and fostering invaluable connections, this program not only unlocks doors to opportunity but also ignites a spark that propels students towards their fullest potential. From empowering confident leaders to cultivating a diverse and talented workforce, VIA Connecting to Success paves the way for a brighter, more prosperous future for all.” 

The expansion of this program will strengthen VIA’s ongoing partnership with the William S. Hart Union High School District and College of the Canyons, VIA’s release said.  

“The Hart district truly values our partnership with VIA and especially the Connecting to Success Program,” Hart district board member Cherise Moore said in the release. “This program provides an opportunity for every student in the Hart district to connect with business leaders in our community as they learn about skills needed to succeed in the workforce and experience hands-on learning for career success.” 

In addition, it strengthens VIA’s partnerships with 100-plus committed business leaders in the SCV who serve as facilitators and mentors for the emerging workforce in the community, the release said. 

“We’ve been part of Connecting to Success for many years, and I’ve seen firsthand how this program impacts students’ understanding of future education and career decisions,” Steve Youlios, owner of Jersey Mikes, said in the release. “The breakout sessions feature local industry leaders who share their expertise in a variety of fields. This year’s program will be expanded to include career choices that can be pursued without the need, and cost, of higher education. I strongly recommend this annual event to all students as they start to think ahead to their future plans.”  

More than 35,000 students have participated in the program, which is funded in part through the grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration.   

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