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Grant Program Broadens Opportunities At Columbia
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Columbia College has been awarded a two-year $960,000 grant to develop a new hospitality apprenticeship training program in partnership with two major local employers – Black Oak Casino Resort in Tuolumne and Evergreen Lodge and Rush Creek Lodge near Groveland.

The award, announced by the California Community College Chancellor’s Office (CCCCO), is part of the new California Apprenticeship Initiative, CAI, aimed at broadening the range of apprenticeship programs available to California workers.

The grant will fund development of the Columbia College Hospitality Academy, a pilot project that will give up to 48 students the opportunity to “earn while they learn” at the resort sites. Designed with input from the sponsoring employers, the program is modeled on European apprenticeships, blending classroom instruction and on-the-job training in a compressed, two-year program.

The college will receive $960,000 over two years to implement the Academy curriculum, receive approval of the apprenticeships through state and federal Division of Apprentice Standards, enroll students and launch the training at each work site.

“These partnerships with Evergreen/Rush Creek and Black Oak Resorts will be phenomenal training models in the hospitality industry,” said Columbia College President Dr. Angela Fairchilds. “We are proud that our small college was selected as a recipient for the CAI funding and look forward to developing this unique training opportunity for area residents who are interested in a career in the hospitality field.”

Dr. Klaus Tenbergen, Dean of Technical and Career Education & Economic Development, will oversee development and implementation of the Academy starting in early 2016.

“This is a unique opportunity to work with local employers to develop a skilled and educated workforce for the hospitality and food service industry,” Tenbergen said.

Partners at Black Oak and Evergreen Lodge will be key players in the program, which Columbia College hopes can be used as a blueprint for other employers interested in apprenticeship training.

Evergreen General Manager Joseph Juskiewicz sees the new program as an excellent opportunity to build on existing momentum.

“As a Certified B Corporation, Evergreen Lodge at Yosemite has a strong commitment to using business as a force for good in the world,” Juskiewicz said. “Since 1992 we’ve operated a Youth Program that has taught important job and life skills to hundreds of Bay Area youth. With the opening of Rush Creek Lodge we’re excited to see our Youth Program expand, and now this collaboration with Columbia College and our neighbors at Black Oak Casino Resort will take hospitality in Tuolumne County in an even greater direction.”

Black Oak Casino Resort also welcomes the project’s new on-the-job training.

“We are pleased to partner with Columbia College and offer on-the-job training led by our professional team. This is a great opportunity for those entering or advancing their careers in the Hospitality industry,” said Black Oak Casino Resort General Manager Aaron Moss.

Once enrolled, students will be able to complete recognized industry training certificates and earn an Associate of Science degree in Hospitality Management so they are positioned for career advancement. Apprentices rotate through different professional areas at the employer site over an 18 to 24-month period, to receive comprehensive training in a range of positions that could include a combination of front desk, housekeeping, maintenance, beverage management, retail, recreation and several aspects of kitchen and food service. Training in customer service and other “soft skills” will be incorporated throughout.


Based on employer needs, students enroll in either a seasonal or weekly training model to complete 2,000 hours of on-the-job training, a program of courses and skills certificates, plus general education and electives.