There are 3,200 #CaliforniansForAll College Corps Fellows at 46 partner campuses across the state of California.
There are 3,200 #CaliforniansForAll College Corps Fellows at 46 partner campuses across the state of California. Credit: source: youtube.com

Prince James Story |

In October, the #CaliforniansForAll College Corps program launched on 46 campuses. Last week, Josh Fryday, California Chief Service Officer and head of California Volunteers, met with college corps staff members for the University of California, Riverside (UCR) to see how the program is progressing.

Students participating in the program serve communities across the state, including here in the inland region, while earning money to pay for their college education.

Josh Fryday, California Chief Service Officer and head of California Volunteers, met with college corps staff members for the University of California, Riverside (UCR) last week. (source: youtube.com | #CaliforniansForAll College Corps Fellows).

Executive Director of Educational and Community Outreach at UCR, Alicia Velazquez, called this program a “Win, Win, Win—a win for the students, a win for the institution, and a win for the communities.”  

At UCR, 151 fellows participate in the program. The fellows are divided into three service project categories:  education, climate change, and food insecurity. 

Executive Director of Educational and Community Outreach, Alicia Velazquez, called this program a “Win, Win, Win—a win for the students, a win for the institution, and a win for the communities.”  (courtesy: linkedin.com)

According to the California Association of Food Banks, approximately one out of five Californians don’t know when their next meal will be. Black and Hispanic communities are the most impacted by food insecurity. 

Regarding the climate, San Bernardino and Riverside ranked in the top two spots for having the worst ozone pollution in the country, according to the American Lung Association, State of the Air report for 2022. Focusing on preventive measures for climate change is essential to provide better living conditions for these communities.

Sandy Reyes-Moran  is in her fourth year at UCR. On top of being an ambassador for the College Corps program at the university, she is doing undergrad research for the School of Education, focusing on the impacts COVID-19 had on children in kindergarten through sixth grade. 

“I feel like my biggest dream is to create a scholarship foundation to fund and help students like myself. I am an AB 540 dreamer, so for me, this program means so much,” said Reyes-Moran. “It’s rare to find these great opportunities, let alone for somebody like me.”

Sandy Reyes-Moran, UCR College Corps campus ambassador, said this program is a fantastic starting place for her in her journey to improving education for kids in her community. (Courtesy: Black Voice News)

Other national service programs like AmeriCorps, a federal program, have rules about how the money is spent. Specifically, undocumented individuals like Reyes-Moran are not allowed to participate in AmeriCorps programs or similar federal programs because of their status in the country.

So what has California done with College Corps to offset the lack of funding available to AB 540 Dream Act “Dreamers” through programs like Americorps?

There are 500 dreamers who are fellows in the College Corps program. In addition, 68% of the fellows participating in the program are first-generation college students. 

According to Katie Vavao, director of communications for California Volunteers, California might be the first state to allow undocumented students to participate in a service program and give them funding for school and living expenses. 

Students participating in College Corps receive $7,000 for living expenses, and after they complete 450 hours of volunteer work, they receive an additional $3,000 for their “educational allowance.” 

This program provides financial support that helps students stay in school and work in the community. Plus, they’re getting great learning opportunities and can practice networking skills while receiving academic credit through the program.

Prince James Story

Report for America Corps member and Black Voice News Climate and Environmental Justice reporter, Prince James Story was raised in Atlanta, Georgia. He is an intersectional journalist with experience covering news and sports across numerous mediums. Story aims to inform the public of social inequities and discriminatory practices while amplifying the voices of those in the communities harmed. Story earned his master’s degree in Sports Journalism from Arizona State University-Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. He earned a B.A. in Mass Communication and a B.A. in African American studies from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Contact Prince James with tips, comments, or concerns at Princejames@blackvoicenews.com or via Twitter @PrinceJStory.