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Sac State receives $5.9 million to expand ‘College Corps’ community service fellowship program

Sacramento State received funding to create a College Corps program, which will allow more students to earn money while working in community service. (Sacramento State file/Andrea Price)

Sacramento State has received $5.9 million for its own College Corps program, giving more students the chance to earn money while working to improve the local community.

Students work on a project in the community during Alternative Spring Break.
One way Sacramento State students give back to the community is during Alternative Spring Break, when students use their vacation from classes to volunteer for community projects. (Sacramento State file/Bibiana Ortiz)

“As the Sacramento State College Corps, students will be making an impact on the Sacramento region,” said Richard Angulo, who handles the program’s marketing and recruitment.

The application priority deadline is April 15, and will close on June 15.

Launched in 2022, #CaliforniansForAll College Corps provided $146 million to fund fellowships for students to participate in community service projects in areas of K-12 education, climate action and food insecurity.

The goal is to engage students from diverse backgrounds in community service related to their field of study so they can gain professional experience and earn up to $10,000.

The program is one of the only financial aid opportunities available for undocumented students.

“College Corps is a state and federally funded program to bridge the gap between paid and unpaid internships,” said Nancy Yuen, Sac State’s Fellow Advisory coordinator.

“We help them personalize their experience to cater to the profession they’re following. So, they’re not just earning money, but also gaining professional development.”

Sac State was among 45 institutions, including 16 CSU campuses, selected for the first round of #CaliforniansForAll College Corps funding. The University was part of a consortium with UC Davis, Sacramento City College and Woodland Community College that shared $16.1 million.

Roughly 100 Sac State fellows participated in Sacramento Valley College Corps during the first year, followed by 120 this year, according to Angulo, a former fellow who now is a recruitment and retention graduate student assistant for the College Corps program.

Next year, the University will separate from the consortium to work with community partners closer to home. The new Sacramento State College Corps has been awarded $5.9 million over the next two years, enough to fund fellowships for 180 students each year, Angulo said.

In exchange for completing 450 hours of service during the academic year, each student fellow will receive $10,000.

Sociology student Vanessa Rodriguez thought it sounded too good to be true.

“I thought there’s just no way somebody would be offering this kind of opportunity,” she said. “But then I thought, ‘What’s the worst that could happen?’ ”

Rodriguez has been working at the Woodland Community College food pantry since August. Twice a week, she serves pastries and coffee or picks up food from the Yolo Food Bank to distribute to 350 students.

“I like connecting with students from my own community,” said Rodriguez, who grew up in Woodland. “I see them struggle, wondering if they can get to the next phase of college, and I’m like the real-life testimony that if anyone can do it you can.”

Angulo remembers going from one friend’s couch to another, trying to figure out where his next meal was coming from, before he learned about College Corps.

“Helping others serves a higher purpose, and seeing people’s reactions when they get food they need or access to resources, it’s priceless. And the financial aid helps tremendously.” -- Drew Dailey, Sacramento State student

Angulo, who is pursuing his Master of Business Administration, worked at the River City Food Bank when he was a fellow and helped distribute food to low-income families. He also teamed up with Yes2Kollege to create urban farms in South Sacramento’s food deserts.

“It was very surreal,” he said. “Here I was, pursuing my higher education, and just a few years earlier I was on the other side of the table receiving help.”

Drew Dailey also grew up in a home where there wasn’t always food, let alone health care. He worked as a carpenter before returning to school.

To help offset his work hours, he applied for the College Corps program and chose to work for the Health Education Council in South Sacramento.

“A lot of people might not have phones or access to the Internet, so we find ourselves taking flyers and going door-to-door, helping them fill out their forms on the spot, or we come back later and pick them up,” Dailey said. “I know firsthand what they’re going through. I can relate to them.

“Helping others serves a higher purpose, and seeing people’s reactions when they get food they need or access to resources, it’s priceless. And the financial aid helps tremendously.”

Rodriguez encourages other students to apply for College Corps.

“It opens your eyes to the things that are happening that you didn’t know were happening right in your community,” she said. “And don’t think you’re going to get rejected.

“The worst thing they can say is, no. And the best thing they can say is, yes.”

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About Jennifer K. Morita

Jennifer K. Morita joined Sacramento State in 2022. A former newspaper reporter for the Sacramento Bee, she spent several years juggling freelance writing with being a mom. When she isn’t chauffeuring her two daughters, she enjoys reading mysteries, experimenting with recipes, and Zumba.

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