On December 7, 2017, Riverside Virtual School teacher Dave Dillon and ERS Consulting founder Eddy Sumar were named Strong Workforce Champions by Robert Corona, Deputy Sector Navigator, GTL, Riverside Community College District for helping to advance regional efforts to build a strong workforce and enable social mobility by developing and implementing the International Business Pathways program, a high school business curriculum, at Riverside Virtual School.
Dave Dillon and Eddy Sumar have been committed supporters of Riverside Community College District career education (career technical education) programs, which are the result of intense collaboration among a vast array of partners outside the community college system, among them industry and workforce development agencies.
Strong Workforce Champions are individuals and organizations who demonstrate the essential components of the Strong Workforce Program. They:
• Advance work-based learning opportunities, including internships and apprenticeships.
• Collaborate with career technical education faculty to develop programs and curricula with the skills that industry demands.
• Support development of quality career technical education faculty.
• Support general career technical education efforts.
• Support sustainable funding for career technical education programs.
Robert Corona, who is also the Inland Empire Center for International Trade Development Director, said, "I consider it a privilege to recognize Dave and Eddy's dedication to changing the lives of their students through contextualized learning. Their efforts of going above and beyond normal classroom instruction is noteworthy and reflected by the students completing the program."
In 2016, Dave Dillon met Eddy Sumar at a Model United Nations Conference where they learned about their mutual desire to offer business courses for high school students. Working together during the 2016-2017 academic school year, they developed the International Business Pathways program for grades 9 through 12. Regardless of when they join the program, students work through the different levels by participating in classroom lessons, boot camps, and field trips focused on key business principals such as customer service, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy. This academic school year they have expanded their program to Martin Luther King, Jr. High School in Riverside and continue to mentor the teacher in charge of the program there.
The Strong Workforce Program is a bold step California took in 2016 to create 1 million more middle-skilled workers, thereby producing a job-ready workforce for employers and lifting low-wage workers into living-wage jobs. Grouped into seven areas targeting student success, career pathways, workforce data and outcomes, curriculum, CTE faculty, regional coordination and funding, the leading-edge state economic development program is driven by “more and better” CTE. The “more” pertains to increasing the number of students enrolled in programs leading to high-demand, high-wage jobs. The “better” aligns with strategies to improve program quality, as evidenced by students completing or transferring programs, getting employed or improving their earnings.