At its September 10 meeting, the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners approved the port becoming the fifth partner in the Long Beach College Promise, joining Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD), Long Beach City College (LBCC), California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) and the city itself in providing more accessibility to higher education.

The Port of Long Beach has joined the city’s three educational institutions as a partner in the Long Beach College Promise. This formalizes the port’s current efforts to advance education and awareness of the maritime industry, which includes operating the Academy of Global Logistics at Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo High School. Pictured from left is Harbor Commissioner Lou Anne Bynum, Academy Career Technical Education Teacher Jim Dowding, Academy of Global Logistics Lead Teacher Kim Oliver, Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero and Cabrillo High School Pathways Coordinator Aline Maestas. (Photograph by the Business Journal’s Brandon Richardson)


The Promise program guarantees LBUSD graduates a tuition-free year at LBCC and a path to admission at CSULB if they meet certain academic requirements. Commissioner Lou Anne Bynum said the port’s commitment to expanding its educational influence is a natural extension of its current involvement. By becoming a partner in the Long Beach College Promise, the port is formalizing its current efforts to advance education. Bynum retired from a 20-year career at Long Beach City College a year ago. She served as executive vice president of college advancement and economic development since 2012.


According to Bynum, the port has awarded thousands of dollars in scholarships and provided more than 400 internships to both high school and college students. Through its externship program, the port has also advised faculty members on how to integrate trade and logistics into their curriculum.


“It only made sense to me that, if the port is so committed to this and is putting in so many resources to help students in our community, it would be great if we could be a formal partner in the promise,” Bynum said.


In July, the board approved $60,000 to develop a pilot program for a Maritime Center of Excellence at the Long Beach City College campus. Plans include six training workshops for seven occupations related to trade and transportation. The port also operates an Academy of Global Logistics at Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo High School, a four-year program that introduces students to careers involving the supply chain.


Now, port leaders are looking to share this curriculum with other communities around the country, “so they don’t have to do everything from the ground up,” Bynum explained. She also said that discussions are underway about adding a STEM component for young women.

“It would open the door to higher-paying jobs to young women in our community that they wouldn’t normally consider,” Bynum said. “There’s a dearth of young women who have access to or even think about getting involved in [STEM] careers.”


Bynum said that, out of the 200 similar College Promise programs that are active -­across the nation, there is no other with an industry partner that demonstrates the same level of involvement as the Port of Long Beach. “Other Promise programs have high-level corporate partners that may provide some money but, as far as I can tell, I don’t know of any other program that has this kind of robust participation in education from an industry side,” she commented.


Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero expressed agreement. “What’s groundbreaking about our involvement is that a particular industry is now going to also be a part of the College Promise. We’ll be available to give greater awareness of maritime industry opportunities, training and curriculum. These are some of the aspects that lead us to be very proud of being a leader in that model.”


Cordero said that the port’s participation aligns with the goals set forth in the Green Port Policy, a framework that the board adopted in 2005 to reduce harmful environmental operations. “For us at the port authority, it’s part of the roadmap that we’ve been making since 2005, pursuant to the Green Port Policy of elevating our involvement in the community, which would include the educational institutions,” he said.


According to Cordero, port leaders have discussed ways to grow the internship program, as it increases awareness of not only the port but of different career paths in general. “Within the Port of Long Beach, we have engineering, human resources, communications, trade and commercial development,” he explained. “There’s a number of fields in which students can associate themselves, which may not be strictly related to something they want to do in the maritime industry, but maybe related to something they want to do as a career.”


Bynum said a goal of joining the Promise program is to retain local talent. “We want our students to get educated in Long Beach and stay in Long Beach,” she said. “We tend to export those we educate. The city is going to depend on this workforce, and the port will certainly depend on it in the future.” She also called on more industries to get involved in order to extend the program as far as possible.