CIDER drone education program receives $1M from James Irvine Foundation

A drone flying above a grassy field at sunset.

The UC Santa Cruz CITRIS Initiative for Drone Education and Research (CIDER) and several partners have received a $1 million, 15-month planning grant to support regional drone education and workforce development from The James Irvine Foundation. The funds will be used to develop a program that provides drone pilot skills, certification and field experience that lead to employment for students in the underserved Salinas Valley and Pajaro Valley regions.   

CIDER is a program within CITRIS at UC Santa Cruz that brings together students and stakeholders to develop a diverse drone workforce. The grant is shared with university partners at the UC Santa Cruz Institute for Social Transformation and MESA program, and external partners Hartnell College and Digital Nest.

The funding will allow the partner organizations, under the leadership of CIDER Director Becca Fenwick and Associate Director Justin Cummings, to establish an educational and training pathway for students as well as new and incumbent workers in the Salinas and Pajaro valleys.

“It is wonderful to see that, thanks to the generous support from partners like The James Irvine Foundation, our focus on diversity, equity and inclusion in CITRIS and CIDER in particular is resulting in such great opportunities to serve communities that are underserved and underrepresented in STEM,” said J.J. Garcia-Luna-Aceves, campus director for CITRIS at UC Santa Cruz.