California College Corps Expands Opportunity, Service Across State

#CaliforniansForAll College Corps is putting its first student cohort to work in communities around the state. Fellows can earn $10,000 for school.
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  • #CaliforniansForAll College Corps is a program that will provide participating students with service opportunities in their communities.
  • Critical issue areas of service include climate action, K-12 education, and COVID-19 recovery.
  • Forty-six colleges and universities across the state will have the program on their campus.
  • After a year of service, participating students will receive $10,000 for academic and living expenses.

In the heart of California's Coachella Valley, College of the Desert (COD) students this month partnered with a food bank to create a win-win-win for students, their college, and the community.

The partnership between the public, the Hispanic-serving community college serving 12,500 students, and FIND Food Bank is facilitated by a $1.8 million boost by #CaliforniansForAll College Corps, a service-for-scholarship program launched by Gov. Gavin Newsom in January.

Forty COD students will work with FIND to combat hunger on COD's Indio campus in the larger community. They'll also earn $10,000 for their education.

To help me get through college, it's going to help me financially, but also that sense of self accomplishment … it is important to have that self accomplishment of helping the community, Derick Talay, a member of the College Corps program, said in a statement announcing the partnership.

The 40-fellow program in Indio is the latest service project to be announced by #CaliforniansForAll College Corps, which is working to make good on a promise Newsom made when he swore in the inaugural class of fellows last month: Students from all backgrounds would be able to earn money toward their college degree by serving their community.

The program's inaugural cohort includes 3,250 students at 46 California Community College, University of California, California State University, and private college campuses across the state. They'll receive $10,000 — $7,000 in living expenses and a $3,000 one-time scholarship — after completing 450 hours, or one year, of service.

In California, if you are willing to serve your community and give back in a meaningful way, we are going to help you pay for college. This is a win-win-win: Helping to pay for college, gaining valuable work experience, and having a meaningful impact on your community, California Chief Service Officer Josh Fryday said in a statement announcing that inaugural cohort.

Half of the fellows will serve as tutors or mentors in K-12 education. The other half will be split, 28% focusing on working to address food insecurity, and 20% taking on climate action, according to the program.

#CaliforniansForAll College Corps will also focus on Pell Grant-eligible, first-generation, and undocumented students. According to the governor's office, the first cohort of fellows includes more than 500 undocumented students. Additionally, more than two-thirds of the first cohort are Pell-eligible, and 64% are first-generation college students.

Here's a glimpse at other projects being launched by California's first group of College Corps fellows.

University of California, Los Angeles

One hundred and twenty fellows in the first cohort are from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

UCLA received a $2.55 million grant earlier this year to support the school in offering 120 fellowships per year for the next four years.

According to the school, students will be allowed to reapply for the program. Additionally, between 60 and 75 spots will be reserved exclusively for undocumented students. The rest of the fellowship slots will be available to federal Pell Grant recipients.

California State University, San Bernardino

Forty-three students from the San Bernardino and Palm Desert campuses of California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB) are part of the first cohort.

Astrid Mejia, a fourth-year student majoring in Spanish at CSUSB, said her goal is to be a teacher.

I wanted to apply to this program because I think it's a good way for me to get experience as a teacher, working with students and I want to give back to my community, Mejia said in a CSUSB release.

Mejia, who emigrated from Honduras with her family, said she was inspired to do the program by her parents and wanted to give back to them after everything they had been through.

University of San Diego

Ninety-five students were selected from the University of San Diego (USD), a private college in California, to join the first cohort of the program.

I finally have an opportunity to make a difference, said Marius Van Dongen, a College Corps fellow, in a release from USD. ... I have all of this great education. I can finally do something with it, make a change, and help my community and I think that's super exciting. I think that's a great way to grassroot my future, my career. The stipend is a nice bonus to doing that.

According to USD, fellows will work with local community partners including the Port of San Diego, the San Diego Regional Climate Collaborative, and the San Diego Unified School District in their critical issue areas of service.

Sacramento Valley College Corps

The University of California, Davis (UC Davis); Sacramento State University; Sacramento City College, and Woodland Community College make up the regional Sacramento Valley College Corps (SVCC).

Over 300 fellows joined the first cohort from SVCC - including 103 from Sacramento State University and 180 from UC Davis.

Sacramento City College planned to have 55 students in the first cohort and 70 students in the second, according to a report from the Express, the school's student-run newspaper.

SVCC received $16.1 million from the state to implement the program to recruit, train, place, and pay about 1,000 fellows across all four schools, according to UC Davis.

Lizette Luis, a sociology major with a minor in education at UC Davis, said she applied for the program to teach kids in her community. She also said that the program stipend helps her pay rent.

I felt it was going to give me a push in the direction I wanted to go, she said in a university press release. I love interacting with the kids. I go to the school and say, 'This is it!'