Berkeley City College and the office of Mayor Tom Bates are launching the Berkeley Pathway to College, a program that aims to create a college-going culture for students in the city.
The new partnership, called the Pathway, is between student ambassadors and ambassador alumni from Berkeley City College, or BCC, and Bates, and it is designed to educate students in middle schools, high schools and community programs about attending community college or higher education institutions.
“(The Pathway) allows students to go through school in an affordable manner and also allows students to enter a career pathway so they can go from school to a career,” Bates said. “We are making fabulous progress, and we are excited that BCC has been in the community for 40 years now. I hope that the students who graduate will be critical thinkers, make a contribution to our society and give back to our community.”
The program’s ambassadors, which include students and BCC alumni, will go to schools during the year and speak with students and parents about the existing opportunities in higher education.
The college is also working with Berkeley Unified School District, guaranteeing those who graduate with a C average or better and who attend Berkeley schools will be admitted to the community college. BCC will also provide resources and training for students who choose to join the workforce.
“I have seen the difference education has made in my life. Being an ambassador has allowed me to give back what I have been given,” said Esteem Brumfield, a BCC alumnus. “It allowed me to go into the community and say, ‘Hey, this is my experience — what can I do for you?’ We really want to empower everyone in the community to be successful academically.”
The educational outreach services include informing middle and high school students and their parents about the resources available at BCC. While Pathway was in the process of being created last year, the partners hope to see if students take advantage of the program when they graduate in the spring of 2015.
The collaboration is a part of 2020 Vision, a citywide initiative that aims to promote academic success among youth in Berkeley as well as close the achievement gap in the school district by 2020.
Rodrigo Lemes, a BCC ambassador alumnus and graduate of the Haas School of Business, said he wants to encourage students to attend community college.
“When I came to Berkeley City College, there is such a warm community feeling, and that is really transformative when you come from a minority,” Lemes said. “The transition from a city college to a four-year university was really challenging — not just because I went to Cal, but because it is one of the best in the world.”