College of the Redwoods is a public community college located on the north coast of California. Home to nearly 280,000 residents, the district covers almost 10,000 square miles, including some of the most rural areas of the state with a variety of regional socioeconomic challenges.
This remote mountainous region is undergoing a major, lengthy economic transition. With the collapse two decades ago of the area’s traditional primary industries, timber/lumber and fishing, thousands of jobs have been lost in the region. Local youth now compete with displaced timber/lumber and fishing workers for semiskilled or entry-level employment, and regional entrepreneurs struggle to find their way in a new economy.
In part because of a long history of high-wage jobs that did not require formal education, some families in the four-county region have no history of postsecondary education and do not even recognize, much less fully value, education’s role in preparing for current and future employment opportunities. This region’s population has a poverty rate that is significantly higher than that of California as a whole or that of the United States.