California Gov. Gavin Newsom swore more than 3,000 fellows — including 98 from UC Berkeley — into the inaugural class of the #CaliforniansForAll College Corps on Friday.
The College Corps, launched by Newsom and California Chief Service Officer Josh Fryday, offers students the opportunity to receive $10,000 toward their college education for completing a year of service, according to a California Volunteers press release. It is the largest program of its kind in California history, the press release noted.
“California, with the College Corps, is saying that because you are willing to serve your community, we are willing to help you pay for school,” Fryday said during the ceremony.
According to Carrie Donovan, director of strategic initiatives at the UC Berkeley Public Service Center, each fellow commits to serving community partners for 450 hours. They earn a $7,000 living stipend, paid monthly, and a $3,000 education award upon completion. Donovan noted that the UC Berkeley fellows have already completed almost 3,000 collective hours of service.
Each campus fellow is working with one of 27 community service partner organizations, Donovan said. Their focuses include food justice, climate justice, youth behavioral health and K-12 education.
“This program has offered me an opportunity to get some real-life experience in sectors that I’ve always been interested in, while also helping alleviate any of the financial struggles I have,” said campus fellow Diego Garcia.
Garcia works with four different programs at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School. These include an AVID Excel class for English language learners, a reading mentorship, an after-school math mentorship program called Bridging Berkeley and general student assistance.
For Garcia, a first-generation low-income student, working as a College Corps fellow means gaining knowledge about what it takes to work in education. Along with monetary aid, he said the program provides him with the tools to familiarize himself with the humanities education career he wants to pursue.
“College Corps is about restoring the social contract between government and its citizens,” Newsom said in a press release. “This public investment builds upon California Volunteers’ army of service members, which is larger than the Peace Corps and exemplifies the spirit and idealism I see in young people across California.”
The California Volunteers website lists three goals for the College Corps program: Create civic-minded, problem-solving leaders, help low-income students and address societal challenges across the state. In service of these goals, California colleges and universities plan to deploy more than 10,000 fellows over the next four years.
During the ceremony, Fryday called the program a “win-win-win” — a benefit for the students in financial and professional support, a benefit for communities in volunteer service and a benefit for all of society.
“We believe in you. We value you,” Fryday said at the ceremony. “California knows what you will contribute to make this world a better place for everyone.”
Chrissa Olson contributed to this report.