News Release

January 24, 2014

Business, education partnership receives high honors
Partners in Education to celebrate its volunteers Jan. 29

Santa Barbara County’s strongest business and education partnership, Partners in Education, has received two statewide awards as its leaders prepare to celebrate the volunteers, students, and educators who make its programs possible.

The California School Boards Association has bestowed its Golden Bell Award on the Partners In Education Internship Program, citing it as a model program that makes a difference for students and ensures that the needs of all students are met. The California County Boards of Education also honored the Internship Program with its Apple for Excellence Award, which recognizes programs of exemplary breadth and depth, administered by county offices of education, that address students’ changing needs.

“This is a wonderful honor that recognizes the dedicated efforts of our business partners, educators, interns and staff working together to ensure that all students are prepared to succeed in their career of choice,” said Bill Cirone, Santa Barbara County Superintendent of Schools.

“This program builds on the strong foundation provided by Regional Occupational Programs/Career Technical Education and school districts’ Career Academy Partnerships,” he added. “We are all impressed by the ways that student interns are able to contribute to local employers and by the ways our business partners have stepped up to provide quality career mentoring for our youth.”

Partners in Education is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization administered by the Santa Barbara County Education Office under the guidance of the business and education leaders on its board of directors. The upcoming celebration will be the annual Business & Education Partnerships Breakfast at Earl Warren Showgrounds from 7 to 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 29. The sold-out event highlights the variety of ways that Partners in Education supports schools and youth-serving nonprofits, and it salutes the volunteers and businesses that make it all possible.

The Partners in Education Internship Program augments classroom learning while providing high school students with job skills development and meaningful, paid work experience. After a rigorous application and interview process conducted by staff and local business volunteers, students complete seven weeks of job readiness training focused on 21st-century skills and basic employment proficiencies before they are matched with local businesses for internships of eight to 10 weeks. Students who are selected range from 16 to 18 years old and have demonstrated perseverance in facing personal hardships.

“Consistently, our business partners tell us that students — even college graduates — come for employment with unrealistic expectations and little demonstrated experience in the workplace,” said Michelle Magnusson, executive director of Partners in Education. “Critical thinking, customer service, and problem-solving skills require practice in authentic settings. Our primary goal is to ensure students develop the skills and attitudes, both academic and social, to join the workforce in a field that is rewarding and productive to them.”

Paid internships allow the target population of low-income students to participate, Magnusson added.

“Because so many of our student interns struggle financially,” she said, “they feel obligated by familial need to accept an entry-level job, if one is even available, that isn’t related to their career path. The paid internship component allows them to explore career-aligned opportunities just like their more affluent peers.”

To make the program sustainable, businesses and nonprofit organizations contribute $4 per hour toward their interns’ wages. This contribution is matched by local foundations and individuals committed to career development. Major donors include the Orfalea Foundation, Highland Santa Barbara Foundation, Montecito Bank & Trust, AT&T, and the Hazen Family Foundation.

The Internship Program was one of two statewide recipients of the Apple for Excellence and one of eight recipients of the Golden Bell. Both were awarded in December at the California School Boards Association’s annual conference in San Diego.

To learn more about becoming involved in the Internship Program or Partners in Education, contact Executive Director Michelle Magnusson at or 964-4710, ext. 4417, or go to

To host an intern or learn more about the application process, contact Program Manager Chelsea Duffy at or 964-4710, ext. 4421.