#CaliforniansForAll College Corps community service begins

Photo of a press conference
Can Jozef Saul/Staff
UC Berkeley is one of 48 institutions partnering with the #CaliforniansForAll College Corps, a state initiative with goals to aid low-income students and address societal challenges.

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UC Berkeley’s Public Service Center received a $1.8 million grant to support the #CaliforniansForAll College Corps to support students engaging in community service.

#CaliforniansForAll College Corps is state initiative that aims to help low-income students graduate on time with less debt while providing students opportunities to engage in community service and address societal challenges. According to California Chief Service Officer Josh Fryday, UC Berkeley is among 48 partnering institutions, which include community colleges, the UC and CSU systems and private institutions.

“It truly is a win-win. It strengthens our communities through their service while providing financial support for deserving California students,” said UC Chief Financial Officer Nathan Brostrom in the press conference Thursday. “Providing more pathways for debt-free education, while empowering students to pursue service-oriented career paths is a reflection of our shared commitments to access affordability and to public service.”

The first cohort of the program at UC Berkeley will recruit 100 fellows and will require them to complete 450 hours of service between August 2022 and July 2023. Participating students will receive a total of $7,000 living stipend, paid monthly, as well as a $3,000 education award upon completion of the program.

The #CaliforniansForAll program addresses four core areas: K-12 education, climate justice, food justice and youth behavioral health and well-being. Fryday added that these topics were chosen as they are among the biggest issues young people could make the most impact on.

Carrie Donovan, assistant director of the campus Public Service Center, or PSC, said the program targets students from the communities being affected.

“If students could commit to the partnership, they could build really meaningful relations and do transformative work with the community organization,” Donovan said.

Donovan noted that while it will be challenging for students to balance demanding coursework, personal life and service, the opportunity is well worth it.

Sandra Bass, director of the campus PSC said students would work with academic advisors to plan their schedules, adding that partnering community organizations may provide flexible schedules and hybrid options.

The fellows will be divided into groups of 20, each focusing on one service aspect. Donovan added this will create small peer-to-peer learning communities and build close relationships while allowing students to learn about a more equitable society.

Bass noted students’ responses have been “enthusiastic.” The program will be expanding the program by at least 20 students next year and possibly more in the near future.

“It’s important for students to be thinking critically about their intersectionality and positionality and identity and how they’re going into spaces,” said Katrina Koski, chief diversity officer at campus’s School of Social Welfare, adding that fellows will meet.

Bass said the PSC has taken advantage of its long-term experience and existing partnerships for the program.

Koski added that the program will be an undergraduate extension of what the graduate students at the School of Social Welfare have been doing with existing community partnerships.

“Now more than ever, our state or country or world need leaders who are ready and able to bring us together so we can build a more equitable and more inclusive society,” said UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ at the press conference. “As a university that’s deeply engaged and connected to the region and community around us, we greatly appreciate the extent to which the college corp initiative syncs globally with a distinctively local orientation.”

Winnie Lau is the lead research and ideas reporter. Contact her at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @winniewy_lau.