Following a successful inaugural year, representatives of the county office of education and Del Norte Workforce Center say they hope to double the number of students they can pair up with local employers this summer.

E3, or Education, Experience and Employment, will also branch out into the health care industry this summer, offering students jobs at Open Door Clinic. Workforce Center Manager Christy Hernandez said Hilda Ypres Contreras, the administrator at Open Door Clinic, has agreed to possibly place a student in the clinic’s dental area and a student in its medical department, possibly at the front desk.

“Last year was a heavy focus on hospitality-type jobs, which a lot of our youth are able to get,” Hernandez said. “But we want to give them bigger options.”

Hernandez, Sunset High School Principal Tony Fabricius and Building Healthy Communities representative Jermaine Brubaker created the E3 program last year. The program provides students with job experience, a paycheck and skills on how to build a resume, successfully navigate a job interview and how to market themselves. Once they’ve completed the program, the student also receives 10 high school elective credits, Fabricius said.

“It was the three of us, basically, meeting weekly (on) how do we solve or attack the issue of youth, one, being unemployed; two, not having the experience or confidence to go into local businesses and put themselves out there,” Fabricius said. “A lot of youth they don’t know how to do it.”

Last year 17 students went through E3’s Work Readiness Bootcamp and 16 were paired with 11 employers, Hernandez said. Participating businesses last year included the Penny Saver Inn, Life Fitness, the Del Norte County Fairgrounds, Los Compadres Mexican Restaurant, the Del Norte Child Care Council, Hiouchi Cafe & Motel, Fine Spine Chiropractic, the Del Norte Workforce Center, Building Healthy Communities, the Requa Inn and the Del Norte County Office of Education.

E3 was funded through a $25,000 grant from the California Endowment last year and this year it’s on track to receive another $25,000 grant from the endowment, Hernandez said.

Students received $840 last year, Fabricius said. Employers participating in the program gave that money to the Del Norte Workforce Center, which acted as the hiring agent, he said. Fabricius noted because the Del Norte Workforce Center is a nonprofit, that $840 contribution from local employers can be considered a tax deductible donation.

“Employers are the key to all this,” Fabricius said. “The employer is a mentor, they’re part of that educational work-based learning (and) it’s another way of them giving back to the community.”

This summer, Fabricius and Hernandez are hoping to recruit 30 students into the E3 program. Students will attend the Work Readiness Bootcamp during the first week and gain on-the-job experience during the following four to six weeks. According to Fabricius, students can earn $880 to $1,320 for the work they do.

Even if they can’t afford to hire a student, local businesses and employers can participate in the program by being a guest speaker during the Work Readiness Bootcamp or offering tours of their shop or worksite, Hernandez said.

In addition to seven businesses signing onto the program for a second year, new employers participating include 3-Star Logging, Trees of Mystery, Terry’s Wearable Art and Open Door Clinic.

According to Fabricius, E3 has been recognized statewide by other communities wanting to replicate the program. He said he and Hernandez presented at a California Workforce Association conference recently.

Fabricius said he also envisions a future where the E3 program is funded through local sources such as the local Rotary groups or the Crescent City-Del Norte County Chamber of Commerce rather than a grant. The ultimate goal, he said, would be to establish a work-based learning requirement for graduating from high school.

“It’s not impossible,” he said. “(The key) would be getting enough employers for every student in Del Norte to experience on-the-job work-based learning.”

Students who will be high school juniors or seniors next year can pick up an application at the Del Norte High School counseling office, the Sunset High School front office or at the Workforce Center, 875 5th St., Crescent City. For more information, call Tony Fabricius at 707-464-0380 or Christy Hernandez at 707-464-8347 ext. 228.

For employers wanting to get involved, call Roberto Herrera at 707-464-8347 ext. 253 or Tony Fabricius at 707-464-0380.

Reach Jessica Cejnar at jcejnar@triplicate.com .

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