News & Success Stories

Recognized Partners across San Diego County are the driving force behind the strength, reach and impact of the Live Well San Diego vision. Read their inspiring success stories below.

Project Next Helps North County High Schoolers 'Own Their Next' Through College/Career Readiness Training

Post Date:04/02/2024 11:46 AM

3x1 banner Project Next
By: Lisa Stout, Executive Director

There is no one-size-fits-all path to success.

That's why Project Next helps high school students plan and prepare for their future by helping them learn about and pursue the path to success that fits them best. From college to trade school to the workforce our students deserve to know their many options—and pursue what works for them. Our programs focus on helping students uncover their strengths and interests and explore all potential avenues, before guiding them into real preparation for that next step.

All of this happens in our Future Centers, one-stop hubs for our programs and services and located onsite at our partner high schools in the San Marcos Unified School District and Escondido Union High School District.

Equity and Access

Designed by students for students, these Future Centers are funded by local businesses and community supporters and provide college and career readiness resources, mentoring a guidance, and drop-in support to all students before, during, and after school.

Though our goal is to prepare all students to succeed in the workforce and services are open to all students at our partner campuses, most of our work supports disadvantaged youth since they need the most help transitioning to meaningful and economically secure paths after graduation.


We engage over 350 local partners, including school districts, non-profits, businesses, and post-secondary training and education programs, to provide students with unparalleled career readiness preparation and exploration opportunities onsite at their schools and offsite at local companies and post-secondary institutions.

Project Next’s Xcelerate Program

The Xcelerate Program supports graduating seniors who plan on entering the workforce directly out of high school. Our year-long program empowers students to develop leadership and career-readiness skills, teaches them about possible non-college career options, and directly links them to local businesses with openings for jobs that pay a living wage and provide benefits The program goal is to shift more workforce-bound high school graduates to higher-paying careers with benefits and growth potential and away from jobs that pay lower wages, are part-time, and lack benefits.

Through Xcelerate, Project Next has partnered with a range of local companies in various fields, including:

  • Action Air Conditioning, Heating, and Solar,
  • Pacific Rim Mechanical
  • Associated Building and Contractors San Diego,
  • Vallecitos Water District
  • NBC
  • The California Highway Patrol

These organizations all need workers and have openings for different types of jobs paying a living wage with benefits and room for growth.

Action Air Conditioning, Heating, and Solar

At Action Air, their mission is to train the next generation of heating and air professionals through their Action Academy - teaching you the fundamentals of heating and air while you get paid!  

"Partnering with local programs, like Project Next, is beneficial for our company and the community,” said Richard Johnson, General Manager, Action Air Conditioning, Heating and Solar. “This program exposes students to our Action Academy. Action Academy most likely wouldn't have been on their radar without the Xcelerate program at Project Next. With college becoming more expensive, the trades are becoming more popular. As we recruit people for our Action Academy we look to recruit from our local community and Project Next helps us with that. It helps grow our exposure to the community and allows us to provide long term career opportunities for local San Marcos residents.”

University of San Diego Burnham Moore’s Center for Real Estate

We’ve partnered with University of San Diego Burnham Moore’s Center for Real Estate in their newly launched Real Estate Awareness and Diversity Initiative (READI) program which promotes real estate as a career path for high school students in underserved communities.

Most high school students, and likely their parents, would not think of real estate as a career path. Their mission is to provide these students with an understanding of the variety of career opportunities that exist within real estate through access to local companies specializing in all areas of real estate.

Our first cohort of the READI program included 12 students from Mission Hills High School who visited commercial real estate companies in San Diego. Company representatives provided an overview of their respective companies and described the various career opportunities within their real estate sector.

Students also participated in a "dinner at the desk," which allowed them to interact with company employees on a one-on-one basis to learn about their roles at the company.  A huge thanks to Joe Bertocchini, USD Burnham Moore’s Center for Real Estate, and the following companies and their professionals for helping our students gain clarity, confidence, and connections for their futures: Lusardi Construction, Capstone Advisors, Cruzan, Affirmed Housing.

“The opportunities, experiences, and exposure to career choices that The San Marcos Promise is providing to students in the community is and will continue to be life changing," said Joe Bertocchini, Senior Manager of Student, Industry, and Development at the University of San Diego Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate. “My colleagues and I wholeheartedly believe that the program is one which is vital to the future of San Diego.”

“This program made a big impact on my life because I got to learn so much about real estate and further my knowledge,” said A. Sanchez, and 11th grade student participating in the program. “This program has brought many more opportunities to me and opened doors for me and allowed me to further expand my knowledge even after finishing the program. I now have the chance to attend more meaningful events and learn from them BECAUSE of this program and what it taught me. I built connections along the way, it was very worth it.”

Help local high schoolers go from uncertain to unstoppable!

Visit to learn more and get involved today!

Return to full list >>