Learn4Life student Aaliyah M. speaks to the public as a brand ambassador in a paid internship with WIOA program partner Access, Inc.


When students are given the opportunity to learn something they can apply in real life, they are more engaged in school and perform better academically[1]. This is one reason why Learn4Life, a network of 85+ public high schools, integrates Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA) partnerships into its learning model.  This allows students to prepare for jobs by developing professional skills, land paid internships and earn high school credits while achieving industry-recognized certifications.

Established in 2014, WIOA is a work-training program that helps eligible students learn new skills for tomorrow’s workforce. Learn4Life has more than 8,000 students who receive universal workforce development services from40+ WIOA partners across California.

“Our WIOA partnerships are vital to our integrated education and training model of workforce development plus academics,” explained Will Thornhill, Learn4Life’s director of community partnerships. “The past six years we’ve developed a robust WIOA program with hands-on experience and training in high-paying, in-demand industries such as medical fields, culinary arts, construction, engineering, robotics, digital media, logistics and more.”

Aaliyah M., a Learn4Life student in San Diego just completed a 20-week paid internship with WIOA partner Access Inc., training as a brand ambassador spreading the word about various programs at local community events. She and fellow students are learning principals of direct marketing, speaking and presentation skills, and visual communication cues. Teachers create assignments in which the students demonstrate their understanding of the marketing and communications principals they’ve put into practice during the internship.

“I really loved the experience as my first job where I learned how to make good first impressions, network for deeper conversations and the basics of overall communications,” said Aaliyah, who is on track to graduate early next year. “Funny enough, in my networking I met some lovely ladies who work in the foster care system and after talking with them about their jobs, it reinforced my own passion to help others and I’ve decided to pursue a career in social work.”

Sacramento student Isaias T. had participated in job readiness programs at his Learn4Life school in the past and was eager to join a WIOA program to be trained in high-earning, in-demand construction-related jobs. Through the North State Building Industry Foundation, Learn4Life students receive hands-on experience while working toward an OSHA-10 Construction Safety certification, which is necessary for any job on a construction site.

“I really like working with my hands and have experience helping family members on construction jobs,” said Isaias, who is dual enrolled at Sierra College and will graduate high school in a few months. “I’m excited to get this hands-on training so I can land a job in construction to earn good money and stay physically strong, while I go to school to pursue my dream career of firefighting.”

The program is completely free to students, and WIOA provides training, tutoring, mentorship, leadership development, wraparound services and more. For more information about WIOA and Learn4Life, please visit www.learn4life.org/programs/wioa.


[1] University of Michigan-Flint: Fostering student engagement through a real-world, collaborative project across disciplines and institutions, May 13, 2020.


Written By:
Ann Abajian
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