California Gov. Gavin Newsom launched a historic statewide college service program Tuesday, which provides community service opportunities for college students in exchange for $10,000 fellowships.
The #CaliforniansForAll College Corps program aims to engage college students in meaningful service for local community organizations and help students from different backgrounds graduate on time while minimizing debt, according to California Chief Service Officer Josh Fryday. The program will aid up to 6,500 college students over two academic years, and students who complete one year of service will receive $10,000, according to a California Volunteers press release.
“The cost of higher education in California and across the nation has skyrocketed, leaving students with massive amounts of debt,” Fryday said in an email. “With the #CaliforniansForAll College Corps, low-income students who commit to an academic year of service will be eligible to receive stipends and scholarships to help pay for school.”
The program was organized by Newsom’s office and California Volunteers, the state office responsible for engaging Californians in service and volunteering. Fryday added that the initiative is funded through the California Comeback Plan, which includes a $146 million investment for the program.
According to the press release, this is the largest statewide investment in a college service program.
UC Berkeley is one of the 45 California colleges participating in the program, along with six other selected UC campuses, according to the press release. Campuses applied via a competitive grant application process.
“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,” said UC President Michael Drake in the press release. “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.”
According to Sandra Bass, associate dean of students and director of campus’s Public Service Center, UC Berkeley students who join the program can participate in service opportunities in areas such as climate change, public health, social welfare and K-12 education. Bass noted that campus is in the process of developing the program, and details on how students can apply will be released soon.
The $10,000 fellowship will be provided as a $7,000 stipend and $3,000 educational grant toward loans or tuition, according to Bass. Students must complete 450 hours of service over 11 months. Currently, UC Berkeley plans to select 100 students to join the program in the upcoming 2022-23 academic year.
“Community service is part of the DNA of our campus,” Bass said in an email. “It’s exciting to think about what kind of impact is possible when universities across the state are establishing relationships and learning from each other.”