SJSU Selected for Historic New California Service Program

by | Jan 25, 2022 | Awards and Achievements

Civic Action Fellow Christopher Padua, ’22 Forensic Science, working with youth at San José’s Third Street Community Center in fall 2021.

San José State University has been selected as one of the 45 colleges and universities partners for an inaugural service-based college opportunity program launched by the state of California. Last week, Governor Gavin Newsom and Chief Service Officer Josh Fryday announced the launch of “the largest state-level investment in a college service program in California history,” according to the California Volunteers, Office of the Governor’s official press release

“California is a world leader in both higher education and service,” said Newsom. “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.”

The California Volunteers also reported that the#CaliforniansForAll College Corps will provide up to 6,500 college students with service opportunities in critical areas such as climate action, K-12 education and COVID-19 recovery. Students who complete a year of service will receive $10,000 while gaining valuable experience serving in their communities.”

San José State and the other campuses, which represent the University of California and California State University (CSU), community college and private university systems, were selected as program participants via a competitive grant application process. See full list of schools here

This opportunity allots San José State and the other participating campuses up to $3.3 million in funding over two years. In addition, $1.6 million of the funding will go directly to students who commit to completing 450 hours of service in this fellowship. 

“It is important to note that our current Civic Action Fellowship served as pilot for the new #CaliforniansForAll College Corps which received historic funding,” said Andrea Tully, assistant director of the SJSU Center for Community Learning & Leadership (CCLL). In May 2021, Fryday visited SJSU to recognize the work of the Civic Action Fellows and meet with a few of the outstanding student fellows in person.  

Ian Chavez, ’23 Computer Science, a second-year Civic Action Fellow

Ian Chavez ’23 Computer Science, teaches STEM activities to a local child as part of his Civic Action Fellowship.

Ian Chavez, ’23 Computer Science, a second-year Civic Action Fellow, spoke at the California Volunteer’s recent press conference held to announce the new program. He described his experience working as a fellow as “life changing.” Chavez applied for the Civic Action Fellowship after he completed a service-learning course his freshman year and found he loved teaching computer science to underserved kids and providing them with opportunities they might not otherwise have had.

“The San José State Civic Action Fellows are opening doors to young people who might never have found their love of coding or other STEM topics because of their circumstances,” said Chavez. “So if someone pursues a STEM major and helps diversify the industry at the expense of several hours of my time, then I think that’s an amazing exchange and so worthwhile.”

“Through service in the Civic Action Fellowship, more than 80 Fellows have mentored over 150 underserved third through sixth graders, providing STEM enrichment activities,” said Elena Klaw, director of the CCLL. “The first cohort of Fellows completed a total of 23,940 hours of service and 5,985 leadership training hours while mostly sheltering in place.” 

“In addition to direct service related to STEM enrichment, Fellows served local food banks and literacy programs throughout the pandemic. As a result of their participation, Fellows reported they experienced three primary career-related benefits: increased professional development, increased community and campus engagement, and increased awareness of self and others,” Klaw added.

As a result of this newly funded initiative, the CCLL will now be able to expand the existing program up to 100 positions each year to serve our surrounding communities — including opportunities specifically for AB 540 eligible “Dreamers” to serve their communities.

“Through the expansion we will be able to engage more children and create more curriculum that is timely and relevant to their lives,” said Joanna Solis, program coordinator for the Civic Action Fellowship.

“Overall, the most rewarding part of the program has been seeing Fellows come together, support one another and build friendships that I am sure will last a lifetime. Having the opportunity to bring together even more SJSU students and impact the lives of many more children is something I am delighted to be a part of,” she added.

“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,” said Josh Fryday, California chief service officer and the head of California Volunteers.

“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 CSU Chancellor Joseph I. Castro. 

A recording of the press conference is available here.