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Register for the Spring 2017 WALI Forum

WHAT IS The WALI? (Download the WALI Overview)


The Workforce And Literacy Initiative (WALI) is galvanizing the entire region around smart goals and strategies that prepare a highly qualified and highly literate workforce.  The overall goal is attracting 21st century jobs to improve economic and human development in the region. WALI is co-led by the United Way and EconAlliance with numerous partners, including Allan Hancock College.


WHY WALI? According to, a 1% increase in literacy translates to a 1.5% permanent increase in GDP.

Of Northern Santa Barbara County residents, 23% live in poverty, 25% have no high school diploma and 42% are English language learners. Attainment of higher education degrees has dropped 19% over the last decade and more than 60% of students entering Allan Hancock College do not read at high school level. Nationally, 75% of state prison inmates and 59% of federal prison inmates did not finish high school or can be classified as low literate.

By 2020, Northern Santa Barbara County will achieve the following regional Workforce and Literacy Initiative (WALI) Goals:

Goal #1: Double the number of associate and bachelor degrees awarded from institutions in the region, with at least 20% of those being attained in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) disciplines.

Goal #2: Double the number of career technical education (vocational/industrial) certificates awarded by target schools and training institutions in the Northern Santa Barbara County region.

Goal #3: Foster the success of 1,000 North County adults per year in gaining basic literacy skills (reading with comprehension at the 8th grade level) through education, community or workplace literacy programs.

Goal #4: Reduce by 50% the percentage of students unable to read at grade level (grades 3‐11)

Goal #5: Increase the number of high‐quality preschool and early child care spaces available to working families in the Northern Santa Barbara County region by 1,000, supporting reading readiness, child and childcare provider literacy for new licensees.


WALI Advisory Groups:

  • WALI Employer/Educator Workforce Development Advisory Group - A group of 20 or less small, medium and large employers representative of the make-up of the employer pool of Northern Santa Barbara County plus high school, adult education, higher education and vocational training providers willing to monitor progress and make recommendations regarding WALI Goals 1-3.
  • Parent/Educator Advisory Group - A group of 25 or less parents, school board members, school district representatives and/or K-12 teachers, administrators and relevant nonprofit and agency leads to monitor progress and make recommendations regarding WALI Goals 4-5.
  • Data Advisory Group - A group of 10 or less individuals responsible for school, agency, or training provider data collection and interpretation regarding program completion and program success measures to monitor progress on data collection and interpretation in support of WALI Goals 1-5.

WALI Sponsors and Partners: click the logos to visit our sponsors sites



We are also grateful to the sponsors that helped launch The WALI:
Santa Barbara Foundation, Laurus College.


And our media sponsors: