CSU works with California Volunteers to benefit students and communities

Newswise — A new statewide service program provides college students with meaningful work experience and helps pay for their education while building more equitable communities across California. #CaliforniasForAll College Corps, launched in January by the Office of the Governor’s California Volunteers, connects students with service opportunities in fields such as K-12 education, food insecurity and climate action.

California Volunteers has selected 45 colleges and universities across the state to serve as College Corps partner campuses, including 16 CSU institutions: CSU Bakersfield, Chico State, CSU Dominguez Hills, Cal State East Bay, Fresno State, Cal Poly Humboldt, Cal State Long Beach, Cal State LA, CSU Monterey Bay, Cal Poly Pomona, Sacramento State, Cal State San Bernardino, San Francisco State, San José State, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Stanislaus State.

California Volunteers recently inducted 3,200 students into the first class of College Corps Scholars, more than 1,300 of whom are from CSU — roughly 60 percent of the entire cohort.

“CSU is proud to be a part of this important statewide initiative that aligns so closely with our mission and core values,” says CSU Chancellor Jolene Koester. educational journey, but they will also have a positive impact in their communities that will last for generations.”

Providing relevant experience

“College Corps connects students with job opportunities that directly impact their career paths and prepares them to navigate a complex workforce,” says Christina Gonzalez-Salgado, College Corps Coordinator at Cal Poly Pomona. professional development – ​​from their service site, campus and California Volunteers – including training specific to their community and on topics such as navigating supervisor relationships, time management, career development and self-care.”

For example, CPP College Corps students perform a wide variety of roles, tutoring children in underserved neighborhoods, learning how to install solar panels, providing information on urban and community agriculture, helping people with disabilities develop motor skills, and even handling social media marketing and promotions .

Natalie Gudino Quiles, a Cal Poly Pomona senior studying hospitality management, has turned her passion for addressing food insecurity into a College Corps fellowship with Lopez Urban Farm.

“As a farm advocate, I help grow and harvest produce for the community and educate community members about urban farming and healthier food choices,” says Gudino Quiles. “The work I do through this program is completely relevant to my career goals and gives me a professional environment to gain industry experience.”

Ruben Marquez Jimenez – Stanislaus State junior Ruben Marquez Jimenez – Stanislaus County Office of Education (SCOE) member – says what he appreciates most is how much the job relates to his future career aspirations. Marquez Jimenez is majoring in Political Science and Spanish with minors in History and Latin American Studies and is passionate about helping people achieve higher education through his scholarship.

“In addition to working closely with the Stanislaus Cradle to Career Partnership and the 6 Cups to College Mentoring Program, I help organize a pre-law day that educates community members about the steps to becoming a lawyer and brings them closer to the field,” Marquez Jimenez says. “Me too they really care about immigrant rights and immigration reform, and I love being able to advance those interests while also benefiting my community.”

Marquez Jimenez says that unlike some typical jobs for young people, his supervisors on the ground are sensitive to his needs as a student and are committed to mentoring him and introducing him to professional relationships.

“They understand that being a college student comes first, and they want us to gain skills in our field more than anything else,” he says.​

It helps pay for college

Through College Corps, students can earn $10,000 for completing 450 hours of service to their community. CSU Bakersfield sophomore Alondra Carreno, an after-school teacher’s assistant at the Boys & Girls Club at Donald E. Subura Elementary School, says the money has been a huge help to her.

“My financial aid doesn’t cover all of my expenses, so I had to take out loans the first year,” says Carreno. , food and other expenses and I can continue to live on campus while I get my degree.”

The nationwide service program is also the first of its kind available to AB540-eligible Dreamers. Marquez Jimenez says he’s grateful that the College Corps program includes undocumented students like him, who don’t qualify for federal financial aid or work-study, as well as many internships and scholarships because of their immigration status.

“However, we still have the same financial needs as other college students,” says Marquez Jimenez. “This program allows students like me to benefit from professional development that we don’t usually get.”

College Corps also has the potential to open doors to more students from disadvantaged backgrounds who may not think they can afford to attend college. In fact, CPP’s Gonzalez-Salgado says she’s received inquiries from students who decide to apply to the university because they can get some extra financial aid through the program.

Cultivating a sense of belonging

To become a College Corps partner campus, universities and colleges apply individually or as a consortium and receive grants from multiple sources, including the state and AmeriCorps. The program is administered at CSU by select campus partners and supported by the Center for Community Engagement (CCE) housed in the CSU Chancellor’s Office.

Each participating university has a program coordinator who accepts students and helps them complete the application process, find a service location that serves their interests, and stay on track to complete their required hours. Staff also regularly check in with colleagues to ensure they are doing well academically and personally.

“College Corps students are guided through their service year by staff who invest in their personal and professional development and well-being,” says CCE Director Judy Botelho. their sense of belonging and encourages persistence to earn a bachelor’s degree.”

​The College Corps program is largely aligned with CSU’s own mission of public service and decades-long commitment to providing opportunities for impactful community engagement for students, especially those from historically underserved communities. In 2020-21, more than 38,000 CSU student volunteers contributed 728,000 hours of service to their communities through service learning.​

To learn more about how CSU serves California through service learning, visit the site Center for Community Engagement website.

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