Rancho Cielo CEO Chris Devers (left), with Monterey-Salinas Transit CEO Carl Sedoryk and Monterey County Hospitality Association Executive Director Kristin Horton, picks up the free bus passes for students so they can get to the Salinas campus safely from around the region, including from South Monterey County. (Contributed)

MONTEREY COUNTY — Monterey-Salinas Transit (MST), facilitated by Monterey County Hospitality Association (MCHA), has donated $5,000 in bus passes to Rancho Cielo so its students from the further reaches of Monterey County can attend class.

“Our school serves many students in South County, and one of our biggest challenges is transportation,” said Emily Basanese with Rancho Cielo, a comprehensive learning and social services center for underserved and disconnected youth in Monterey County. “… The impact of getting to school safely and being able to attend classes makes a huge impact in these young students’ lives.”

For students living in South Monterey County or on the Monterey Peninsula, getting to the Rancho Cielo campus in Salinas is a journey. From King City, for example, the commute is 51 miles and an hour’s drive.

“If you don’t own a personal vehicle — the plight of many of our students — getting to school on time is a challenge,” according to Rancho Cielo. “With the donation of $5,000 in bus passes from MST, facilitated by MCHA, our students are provided with an invaluable solution.”

School transportation plays a crucial role in the success of young individuals by providing them with safe, reliable and accessible means to attend school regularly.

Underserved youth, who face various social, economic and environmental challenges, are more likely to experience barriers to education; however, an effective transportation system can mitigate these obstacles and promote their academic achievement.

“Many of our students come from low-income families or disadvantaged neighborhoods where transportation options are limited,” stated Rancho Cielo. “By providing buses or other modes of transportation, schools can bridge the gap between home and school, allowing students to attend classes consistently.”

Currently, Rancho Cielo utilizes a fleet of three 12 to 15 passenger buses to ferry students from Salinas out to the campus on Old Stage Road.

“This is sufficient for those students who live in Salinas, but for those who live outside of the city, you can see how the MST bus passes to get to Salinas are invaluable,” the organization said.

Rancho Cielo has three qualified Class B bus drivers who not only handle transportation duties, but also comprehend the unique needs of the 82 students who currently benefit from its transportation services. These students are transported to and from school for a total of 183 days each year.

“Rancho Cielo welcomes youth from all over Monterey County, as we strongly believe in providing equal opportunities for every young individual in the area to access our services and programming,” the organization added.

In Monterey County, providing underserved and challenged youth with a high school education alone is “insufficient to address their long-term needs,” according to Rancho Cielo. By integrating job training programs alongside their education, Rancho Cielo equips these individuals with the skills, confidence and opportunities necessary to overcome barriers, secure employment and become valuable contributors to their community.

“Only through a comprehensive approach can we empower youth and build a brighter future for Monterey County as a whole,” said Rancho Cielo.

This story has been updated to clarify the donation amount.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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