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Tuition-free adult education opens up access to learning

San Diego Continuing Education (SDCE), a part of the San Diego Community College District (SDCCD), is the largest public adult education entity of its kind. Last academic year, SDCE awarded nearly 10,000 certificates through its no-cost education programs, which allow students to sharpen their skills or learn something new—no tuition payment or enrollment fees required.

Through SDCE, adults can earn their high school diploma or equivalent, learn English through English as a Second Language courses, take citizenship classes or stay on a path of lifelong learning through classes designed for those 55 and older.

In addition to these trainings, SDCE offers more than 60 short-term certificate programs in subjects like health care, mobile application development, small business growth, culinary arts, pipe welding and more. Most take between six months to a year to complete and are aligned with the skill sets needed by employers.

“As a member of the San Diego strong workforce community, San Diego Continuing Education is focused on helping students who want to be employed gain necessary skills to find good paying jobs,” says SDCE President Carlos O. Turner Cortez, Ph.D. “Employers in the region value education and hands-on-experience and students at San Diego Continuing Education receive both.”

This focus on the intersection between education and career has developed a natural and impactful partnership between the San Diego Workforce Partnership (SDWP) and SDCE. In addition to President Turner Cortez’s involvement on SDWP’s Workforce Development Board, Priority Sector Posters, which are based on research done jointly by SDWP and the San Diego Community College system, are shared with students across all seven SDCE campuses.

SDCE is also a key part of TechHire San Diego, a movement that aims to level the playing field for tech jobs. SDCE joined the movement to bring TechHire to San Diego in a co-location partnership that secures 600 jobs and 500 paid internships per year for students over the next four years. This model will be replicated throughout SDCE programs.

Beyond its high-quality classroom education, SDCE lives a vision to offer wrap-around support to students facing barriers to education and employment. “As an educator, I have witnessed the inequity inside classrooms and have seen hardships in urban communities that prevent student success,” says President Turner Cortez. “When educational institutions can provide the additional social and emotional supports beyond the classroom, that is when even the most vulnerable students achieve success, and that is what we are seeing at San Diego Continuing Education through programs like the San Diego Gateway to College and Career, the San Diego Promise.”

“With all these people and this great support and this class, I feel really enthusiastic, willing to commit and to actually come through myself,” says Beverly Ladezma, Gateway to College and Career Recipient, who shares more of her story in this video.

For more information of SDCE, visit sdce.edu.