Shasta County College and Career Readiness Initiative


Lead: Shasta County Health and Human Services Agency, Public Health

Key Partners: Shasta County Health and Human Services Agency, Public Health; College OPTIONS; Shasta County Office of Education. 

Project Location: Redding, Calif.

Contact: Charlene Ramont, MPH, Public Health Program and Policy Analyst, Shasta County Health and Human Services Agency, Public Health, 

Project Description

Research shows a strong link between education, income, and health. The Shasta County Higher Education Task Force, henceforth REACH HIGHER Shasta—a collaboration between the Shasta County Health and Human Services Agency, College OPTIONS, the Shasta County Office of Education, and 18 other partner organizations—is using its grant funding to help prepare its young people for success in all post-secondary options, so they can obtain high-skill, high-wage jobs that will yield long-term health benefits.

Due to high poverty rates, low educational attainment and lack of employment opportunities, Shasta County is one of the least healthy counties in California, with the highest age-adjusted death rate out of 58 counties in the state. Only 19.7 percent of Shasta County’s adult population aged 25+ have a bachelor’s degree or higher (compared to 30.2 percent statewide). The goal of this project is to increase general knowledge about and preparedness for post-secondary education by providing students in middle school, high school and college with the guidance and support they need to overcome cultural and financial barriers to pursuing higher education and to encourage a culture of college-going among the residents of the county. 

To accomplish this, the REACH HIGHER Shasta is implementing a newly-established College and Career Readiness Strategic Plan. Specifically, school leaders and counselors are being provided with a training curriculum and sessions to help them get their students ready for college, parent focus groups are being convened to inform the development of a communications plan between the schools and families; written policies are being developed for local colleges to accept all county students who meet enrollment requirements; and an agreement is being secured from Southern Oregon University to charge in-state tuition for Shasta County students who are admitted.

Why this work is important:

  • Research shows that with every additional year of educational attainment, people have a greater chance of being and staying healthy.

  • The education level a person ultimately achieves in turn affects that person’s daily health choices (like what to eat and how often to exercise), access to care, and overall health.

Relevant Information from the 2014 County Health Rankings:

  • Shasta County ranked 48th out of 57 counties for health outcomes.

  • The county’s unemployment rate was over 13 percent in 2012.

  • Sixty-four percent of Shasta County residents have attained some college education.

Additional links

For more information on REACH HIGHER Shasta visit

College OPTIONS has provided a cash match to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant.