At a press conference Tuesday, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced the expansion of a program that gives college students $10,000 worth of tuition costs for 450 hours of volunteer community service.
The #CaliforniansForAll College Corps expansion will now give up to 6,500 college students service opportunities related to critical issues such as COVID-19 recovery, K-12 education, and climate action over the next two years. Students who complete one year of service, equivalent to 450 hours, will then get $10,000 to be forward for their education.
A total of 45 University of California, California State University, community college and private university campuses are part of the College Corps, including UC Berkeley, UCLA, UC San Diego, Cal State Long Beach, Cal State Fresno, UC Irvine, and Cal State Sacramento. In total, the program will cost a total of $146 million, which was approved as part of the 2021-2022 budget. The #CaliforniansForAll College Corps will also be run primarily through the California Volunteers state office, a division of the Office of the Governor.
Gov. Newsom, along with many collegiate leaders and the California Volunteers, noted the positives of the volunteer program at the Tuesday press conference.
“California is a world leader in both higher education and service,” Gov. Newsom said during the press conference. “The #CaliforniansForAll College Corps advances these priorities by connecting Californians of different backgrounds with enriching service opportunities throughout the state while making college more affordable for our state’s future leaders. We hope the Corps will be replicated across the nation.”
“During this divisive era, the notion of public service and giving back to a larger community could help unify people. We’ve lost a connection to others. This is about forming stronger connections. If I could decide the future of this country I would demand that all of us have some compulsory service and shared experiences.”
Last year, we announced historic investments to help provide students with a debt-free path to college through service. Today, 45 colleges were selected for the first round of funding. We are working to make college more affordable for more Californians. pic.twitter.com/bY82bhW70r
— Office of the Governor of California (@CAgovernor) January 18, 2022
The #CaliforniansForAll College Corps
The leaders of the UC and CSU systems focused on the service aspect of the program, as well as helping make college affordable for thousands of Californians.
“The University of California is pleased to partner with Governor Newsom on this innovative program, which will help thousands of students pay for college while they give back to their communities,” University of California President Michael Drake said. “Providing more pathways to a debt-free degree while empowering students to pursue service-oriented career paths is a reflection of our shared commitment to access, affordability, and public service.”
“The California State University students who participated in the pilot program over the past year took their world-class CSU education and translated that into on-the-ground tutoring and mentoring in their communities,” said California State University Chancellor Joseph Castro Tuesday. “This program is an invaluable opportunity for our students to not only give back to their communities, but also to help prepare the next generation of CSU students for success. We look forward to even greater opportunities for the students selected through the inaugural year of the Corps.”
California Volunteers, meanwhile, compared the program to Americorps or the GI Bill for giving service in exchange for college.
“We are making it clear here in California, like the GI bill, if you are willing to serve your community and give back in a meaningful way we are going to help you pay for college,” explained California Chief Service Officer and head of California Volunteers Josh Fryday. “Today is a historic day in California. The Governor, alongside the leaders of the world’s top higher education systems, offered a monumental proposal to the next generation of Californians— if you step up to serve your community, we’ll help you pay for college.”
However, the program received criticism for both its cost and structure, with some noting that working 450 hours for $10,000 was the equivalent of working a $22/hour job.
“We get that this is supposed to be about service, but they are really stretching out just what this program could do,” said Marco Salazar, a college advisor and college work placement supervisor, to the Globe on Wednesday. “Granted, having some semesters paid for and having a really good bit of experience on a resume is great. But the program does what any kid with hustle can do. And that’s get a good tutoring job on the side in college or something that fulfills the same purpose.”
“There’s a lot of education and COVID-19 recovery jobs out there now, with pay equatable to what the #CaliforniansForAll program is offering. Plus, this is a $146 million program handing out $65 million in college funds. They’re spending more on the program than actually paying for college.”
The #CaliforniansForAll College Corps is expected to be active for the next two years.
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