A mentorship and
support program that’s a partnership between education and law-enforcement
agencies is helping some of the students at the greatest risk of dropping out of
school succeed at San Diego City College.
The San Diego
County Office of Education (SDCOE), San Diego County Probation Department, San
Diego City College, and San Diego State University have worked together on the program,
which is paid for with grant money from the Parker Foundation.
“I think the
program is reflective of what can be done when people collaborate to support
students and their education,” said Stephanie Johnston, a support supervisor
with SDCOE’s Juvenile Court and Community Schools.
There are 40
students supported by the effort. All are men between the ages of 18 and 24, either
Hispanic or African American, and have been on probation.
The first group of
students started this fall. Another group will start in spring.
A similar program
for women is expected to start next year.
Scholars, as they’re known, get extra help during their first year at the
community college with the ultimate goal of preparing them to transfer to a
university. They get peer mentors, extra counseling, a $250 stipend, priority registration
for classes and a personal growth class that helps them explore possible
careers, apply for financial aid, and navigate college life.
“Really what we’re
trying to do it create a peer support network for the students,” Johnston said.
Students who have
finished their first semester in the program are even able to serve as guides
for the newer students through their personal growth classes.
have no previous college coursework, enroll in at least six units each
semester, qualify for financial aid, and agree to fully participate in the
various classes and meetings.
The effort helps
students from poorer neighborhoods see themselves as successful adults, said
Marilyn Harvey, director of development at San Diego City College.
oftentimes, are walking the walk that society has laid out for them,” she said.
“They’re the future of their community, and it’s our hope that with some
support and encouragement, we can help them use the power that’s within them.”
The program grew
out of the annual Passport to Life Career and Education Expo, which helps
hundreds of young people who have been on probation learn about opportunities