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Sac State among colleges chosen for statewide program putting students into community service

A state grant program announced Tuesday, Jan. 18, will put many more students into community service in exchange for funding that will help pay for their schooling. (Sacramento State/Andrea Price)

Sacramento State will play a key role in a new California initiative that will pay college students to help improve their communities.

The University is among 45 institutions and 16 California State University campuses selected for the first round of funding for the CaliforniansForAll College Corps, a $146 million state campaign in which students will participate in community service projects on issues such as climate change, educational equity, and food insecurity.

Sac State will work in partnership with UC Davis, Sacramento City College, and Woodland Community College as the Sacramento Valley CaliforniansForAll Consortium. Of the overall state project funding, the consortium will receive up to $16.1 million over two years, with an initial award of $6.15 million for planning and program development.

Students who complete their fellowships will receive $7,000 for 450 hours of service plus a $3,000 education award in exchange for their service to local governments and nonprofit organizations. In addition to job experience and skills and reducing their college debt, students will gain access to training and professional development programs and earn academic credit.

The initiative will deploy as many as 3,600 College Corps Fellows during its first year. Undergraduate students at participating institutions will be eligible to apply this spring.

The unprecedented program sends a message to scholars that “if you step up to serve your community, we are here to help you pay for college,” said Josh Fryday, chief service officer in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration.

Sac State will work in partnership with UC Davis, Sacramento City College, and Woodland Community College as the Sacramento Valley CaliforniansForAll Consortium. Undergraduate students at participating institutions will be eligible to apply this spring.

Among other things, Fellows will tutor and mentor K-12 students, work on flood mitigation and other environmental projects, and engage with residents who need food and nutritional support.

“Being a part of this statewide initiative from the ground up is very exciting for Sac State, for our students, and for me personally,” said Melissa Repa, director of the University’s Career Center. “Our students will be getting paid a living wage, while giving back to the community. We are in the state capital, so we are in a very unique position of opportunity.”

At Sac State, about 250 students will participate during the 2022-23 academic year, including 80 with undocumented status, also known as “Dreamers.” Students should contact the Career Center for information about the application process.

The initiative will be a “game changer” for many Sac State Dreamers, said Erik Ramirez, coordinator of the University’s Dreamer Resource Center. “Not only will it provide much-needed financial support, but the professional development and community engagement components take undocumented student support to a whole new level.”

Sixteen of the CSU’s 23 campuses were chosen for the inaugural round of funding. As many as 1,300 CSU students are expected to participate in an effort that aligns “with our commitment to public service,” Chancellor Joseph I. Castro said during a news conference Tuesday announcing the initiative.

The College Corps Fellows, Fryday said, will represent “a new generation of civic-minded leaders working together toward a common purpose: a better California for all.”

Newsom said he has “146 million reasons why I’m really proud of this,” and thanked the Legislature for funding the effort. He said he hopes it can ultimately impact not just California, but the nation.

“We can take this to the rest of the country, because no one else is doing it,” the governor said.

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About Cynthia Hubert

Cynthia Hubert came to Sacramento State in November 2018 after an award-winning career writing for the Sacramento Bee. Cynthia believes everyone has a good story. She lives in East Sacramento with her two cats, who enjoy bird-watching from their perch next to the living-room window.

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