State offers students $10,000 for public service

Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Tuesday that 45 California colleges and universities, including some of the state’s most prestigious campuses, will be part of a new public service program that will subsidize tuition for students who perform labor general interest alongside their studies.

The program called “Californians For All College Corps” will begin in the fall 2022 semester with 6,500 students who will be deployed to work part-time in areas of urgent need, such as disparities in kindergarten education in grade 12, climate change and food insecurity, Newsom said in a press conference with leaders of the state’s public university and community college systems.

In exchange for 450 hours of service, each student will receive $10,000 for their education and can earn academic credit for their work.

Seven of 10 University of California campuses will participate in the program in 2022, including UC Berkeley and UCLA, as well as 16 of 23 California State University schools and more than two dozen community and private colleges. The $146 million cost was approved as part of last year’s state budget.

The College Corps is inspired by national service programs that have helped participants pay for their education, like AmeriCorps and the GI Bill, said Josh Fryday, director of state services and manager of the new program.

“We make it clear here in California, like GI Bill, if you’re willing to serve your community and give back in a meaningful way, we’re going to help pay for your education,” Fryday said.

The program’s website outlines a competitive application process for the program which it says will focus on admitting low-income students and “dreamers” – students whose parents brought them to the United States illegally. – who are eligible for the program under California law that allows noncitizens access to in-state tuition if they have graduated from a California high school and meet other criteria.

University of California President Michael V. Drake hailed the program as a way to help thousands of students pay for their education and reduce their debt.

“California is and should always be a place where education turns dreams into reality, where people from all walks of life and walks of life can succeed. Where we use our talents to make the world a better place,” Drake said.

Allowing “dreamers” to be eligible for the program is “very, very important,” said California State University Chancellor Joseph I. Castro.

“This historic investment will help mitigate the disproportionate impacts of the pandemic on students and communities,” he said.

Newsom said if the program is successful, it could be expanded to include more students and be replicated outside of California.

During this divisive era, the notion of public service and giving back to the larger community could help unify people, Newsom said.

“We have lost the connection with the others. It’s about forming stronger bonds,” Newsom said. “If I could decide the future of this country, I would demand that we all have mandatory service and shared experiences.”

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