On May 19, The Santa Barbara City College (SBCC) Foundation held a delightful Garden Party for its major individual donors, who make up its President’s Circle, at the lovely Hope Ranch home of Board President-Elect Scott Vincent and his wife, Rachil Vincent.
Guests mingled on the terrace while enjoying libations from Seasons Catering and guitar music by Tony Ybarra. During the program, SBCC Interim President Dr. Helen Benjamin shared how an exciting part of her new job is having one of the country’s most outstanding foundations supporting the college. She expressed her gratitude to the donors for enabling students who otherwise would not be able to attend SBCC to obtain an education and lauded them for recognizing the importance of having an educated populace.
SBCC student Ana Zepeda also shared her gratitude to donors. After taking a break, Zapata returned to SBCC last year as a single mom in the SPARC Program (Single Parents Arriving Ready for College). With enthusiasm, she related how SPARC gave her amazing tools and resources to succeed in college, including how to advocate for herself and her children and to “not settle for mediocre.” Zepeda has excelled in her classes and taken advantage of tutoring when needed. Through EOPS (Extended Opportunities Program and Services) and SPARC Program, she has connected with the nonprofits Freedom for Youth and Youth Interactive, which allow her, she related, to contribute back to the community that has helped her so much. Upon graduating from SBCC, Zapata hopes to continue her studies at Westmont College.
SBCC Foundation CEO Geoff Green related how he is frequently asked by his counterparts at other community colleges how SBCC has excelled and his reply is the investment of private dollars and the development of community partnerships. Green shared that while the foundation is active in many areas and pursuing some new partnerships, its main focus is making the Promise Program sustainable and more robust. Launched in 2016 and entirely privately funded, Promise covers all required fees, books and supplies of any student who has just completed secondary education in the Gaviota to Carpinteria area.
The state of California has long covered the tuition of low-income students through the Board of Governors Fee Waiver program (now the CA College Promise Grant), but according to Green, tuition accounts for only about 20 percent of the costs students face. The Promise Program’s coverage of pricey textbooks, fees, and supplies allows college to be an option for many low-income students who otherwise could not attend. While in recent years, Promise programs have been initiated at many colleges, SBCC’s program stands out because of its comprehensiveness – covering all required fees, books and supplies, its robustness — covering two full years, and its inclusiveness — it is not restricted based on secondary school performance. SBCC does require that students enroll full-time, participate in academic counseling, and remain in good academic standing. As of May 8, there were 1,631 students enrolled in the program and more than 3,000 have participated since inception.
Last year, the foundation distributed more than $5.3 million: $2.2 million for the Promise program, $1 million in scholarships, $1.6 million to college programs, and $700,000 in disaster recovery assistance. Programs supported include SPARC, a six-week summer bridge program for single parent students, CARE (Coordinated Agencies Resources for Education) also serving single parent students, EOPS, serving financially and academically underprepared students, Veterans Support Program, and Guardian Scholars Program, serving foster youth.
Last year, SBCC served a total of 17,457 students, 7,922 from within the district, with a $97 million budget. For more info about the SBCC Foundation, go to http://sbccfoundation.org.
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