Contributor Newsletter November 2023


November 2023

NFN News Center

Zeroing In: CRC Eyes Textbook-Free Future with Access-Focused Initiative

CRC Zero Textbook Cost Initiative

Don’t make students choose between textbooks and taco night.

That’s the philosophy fueling Cosumnes River College’s Zero Textbook Cost (ZTC) Initiative, a push to defray costs and put more “me money” back in the pockets of Sacramento-area college students.

This program affords students the opportunity to attend courses and even degree and certificate programs, ideally never spending a dime on textbooks.

“The ultimate goal for the college is to become a Zero Textbook Cost college, so that students won’t have to purchase textbooks at all,” says Andi Adkins-Pogue, Librarian at Cosumnes River College, and spearhead for the Zero Cost Textbook initiative. Pogue also serves as Chair of the Affordable Educational Resources Committee at CRC, which strives to reduce material costs in order to improve student success.

Thanks to essential Strong Workforce Program funding, ZTC will soon embark on its second year at CRC. The initiative’s origins began after the college started receiving Covid relief money and CRC President, Dr. Edward Bush, had the idea to use the funds to create a more long-lasting change for current and future students.

“[Dr. Bush] wanted to use that money in a way that was not only immediately impactful for the current round of students, but something that would have a lasting impact,” reflects Adkins-Pogue. “We made a lot of progress in the first year.”


Game-Changing Essential Skills Program Brings ‘Soft’ Skills into Focus

They’re sometimes known as “soft skills,” but for those most in-tune to the needs of California employers, the term is hardly sufficient.

“For a long time now, employers have told us that there’s a lack of the interpersonal and intangible skills among their employees that they need to really succeed,” says Josh Sweigert, Assistant Director of Employer Partnerships for the North Far North region.

Sweigert prefers the term “employability skills” – those such as communication, self-awareness, resilience, adaptability and problem solving. These “soft” – yet significant –proficiencies form the core of the new Essential Skills Program (ESP), a network of skills-training modules designed to dismantle one of the key barriers to workforce success.

“You can be the best coder in the world, but if you can’t communicate with the client, you just can’t get the job done,” says Blaine Smith, Executive Director of the North-Far North Regional Consortium, which will pilot ESP in all 15 of its colleges this fall.

A decade ago, Strong Workforce Program funding from the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office allowed for the development of New World of Work (NWoW), an online program designed to tackle the “soft skills” problem. NWoW was piloted in the NFN region and eventually scaled across all 116 California community colleges.

Created with input from employers across the state, the program focused on the 10 competencies that employers most valued. Alongside technical skills, these competencies were deemed essential to succeeding in ever-evolving work environments. The open-sourced curriculum was designed for post-secondary students with lessons taught by instructors in a classroom setting.



CRC CAM Class Invited Casino Chef to Demonstrate Food Prep

On October 5, 2023, Cosumnes River College’s Culinary Arts Management (CAM) Food Theory and Preparation class hosted guest lecturer Peter DiCorti, Executive Chef at Sky River Casino.

Chef DiCorti demonstrated his culinary skills by making spaetzle, a German pasta and Salmon with beurre blanc sauce. He said he got a lot of experience working his way up at the casino and it is a great place to grow a career.

DiCortiis responsible for menu writing, managing more than 300 staff and policy writing. He oversees the five restaurants in the casino and the employee restaurant, which feeds 1,500 a day.

The students asked about hiring practices, knowing which restaurant is right for them, schooling options and preparing meals.

“It’s very honorable to learn from a seasoned chef, especially a local chef wanting to pass down this information to us, a chef who cares about his product and cares about what he does and is passionate about what he does,” said student Christina Villatoro.

CAM Professor Michael Frigm said the students asked a lot of great questions and were excited to learn from Chef DiCorti.

Submitted by: Karen Hubbard, Director of Emplyer Partnerships, Health & Public Saftey

College of the Redwoods CareerSpeaker Series

College of the Redwoods knows the importance of bringing the real world of careers into their classrooms and has started a career speaker series to facilitate community guest visits and career networking opportunities in support of CR faculty and students. Coordinated through a partnership with the Arcata, Crescent City, Eureka, Fortuna, and McKinleyville Chambers of Commerce, and the College of the Redwoods' President's Advisory Council, the speaker series offers faculty a diverse network of talented and experienced business leaders to share career insight and mentorship with students. Faculty can request speakers from specific industries who visit classes to answer student questions and engage in interactive discussions relevant to a course's content and learning objectives. Connecting with the business leaders gives students a deeper understanding about future career paths and the skills required to get jobs and have successful and fulfilling careers. Comments about the value of the campus visits from industry partners have been very positive, including:

"As one of the mentors who has participated in the College of the Redwoods career speaker series, I have to say that I get at least as much from this experience as the students do. Why?Because this younger generation has so much untapped talent and ideas to teach all of us. Thank you to CR for bringing different perspectives about business ownership, managing employees, and making a contribution in our community to our students and teachers." Ken Hamik, Arcata Chamber of Commerce past board chair, and CR President's Advisory Council member


For more information about the College of the Redwoods' career speaker series, please contact CR Director of Employer Partnerships Jim Ritter at Ranks Cosumnes River College Among Best in U.S.

Prominent higher education resource guide announces top accolades for 2024

In its annual assessment,, a trusted resource for higher education program rankings and planning, has honored Cosumnes River College with the Best Online Medical Coding Degree Program for 2024.'s institutional rankings are set apart from conventional ratings and are deemed the benchmark of academic evaluations for online and hybrid programs. An exclusive methodology ranks each institution on a scale from 0 to 100 across six categories. Cosumnes River College was given a score of 91.92%. Evaluations are based on quantitative measures such as academic quality, graduation rate, cost and ROI, and student resources. With top picks that are highly regarded, affordable, and offer the tools and resources students need to successfully graduate and excel in their fields.

Medical coding specialists ensure accurate billing in healthcare. These awarded institutions deliver online programs in medical coding, emphasizing ICD-10 coding, medical terminology, and healthcare compliance, equipping graduates for careers in medical coding.

In addition to this program accolade, our HIT Program Professor, Kristen Borth, was recently nominated for the Educator of the Year award from the California Health Information Association. The California Health Information Association (CHIA) is a premier state association and largest affiliate of the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) and California's voice for health information (HI) professionals.

The CRC Health Information Technology program trains health information professionals with the knowledge and skills to process, analyze, disseminate, and maintain health care information. A career as a health information professional offers a unique opportunity to combine an interest in health information, business, and computer information science.

The Health Information Technology Program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM). The College's associate degree in Health Information Technology has been reaccredited through 2029.



October 19, 2023 - Chico, CA: GrowTECH FEST 2023, an annual celebration of technology,innovation, and entrepreneurship, has concluded its latest edition on a high note, leaving an indelible mark on the tech and startup ecosystem in the NorthState. It was hosted by ChicoSTART and powered by partner Build by Ferguson.

The successful 2 day conference held October 11th + 12th in the Big Room @ Sierra Nevada, brought together 250+ tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs, investors, students and industry leaders for a remarkable and inspiring experience. The event featured an exciting lineup of speakers, industry topics and networking opportunities, making it an outstanding platform for knowledge exchange and collaboration.

EvaShepherd-Nicoll, Executive Director, ChicoSTART, “This year we decided to enhance the format so the North State could engage in 2 full days of keynote speakers, startup icons, startup stories and industry specific subject matter - there is something for everyone. The success of GrowTECH FEST 2023 can be attributed to the unwavering support of our attendees, sponsors, speakers, and the dedication of the organizing team. It underscored the collective commitment to fostering innovation and entrepreneurship in our ever-evolving technological landscape.”

Save the Date!

The excitement doesn't end here! We invite everyone to mark their calendars for GrowTECH FEST in October 2024, where we aim to raise the bar even higher and create more opportunities for collaboration and growth, recognizing the vibrant entrepreneurial movement in our region.

For media inquiries about GrowTECH FEST 2023 or to learn more about ChicoSTART & GrowTECH, please contact Eva Shepherd-Nicoll, ExecutiveDirector of Chicostart at



Please join us at our next Regional Meeting.

Date: December 6, 2023

Time: 8:00-3:00 (Breakfast and Lunch Provided)

Location: Embassy Suites Riverfront Promonade-Sacramento Ca

PLease register HERE by November 27, 2023

Chancellor’s Office

California Apprenticeship Initiative New and Innovative Grant Program Fiscal Year 2023-24 Request for Applications

The California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office (Chancellor’sOffice) is pleased to announce the release of the Request for Applications(RFA) for the California Apprenticeship Initiative New and Innovative GrantProgram (CAI N&I). All completed applications must be submitted no later than the due date noted in this RFA.

Background and Purpose:

The current version of the CAI N&I was established by the Legislature under Assembly bill 1809 in 2018 and is meant to create new and innovative apprenticeship opportunities in priority and emerging industry sectors or areas in which apprenticeship training is not fully established or does not exist. This purpose is directly in line with the Governor’s goal to serve 500,000 apprentices by 2029.

The RFA is seeking to generate new apprenticeship opportunities by funding proposals to register new programs, implement recently registered programs, and expand existing programs.

Application Information:

The CAI N&I RFA instructions, application requirements, and other materials are available online and may be accessed at the Chancellor’s Office website.

If you have questions, please contact our apprenticeship team via email at

Memo Request for Application (RFA)