College Of The Canyons Receives Grant To Expand Justice-Related Student Services

In an effort to increase justice-related student services statewide, the Office of the Chancellor of California Community Colleges awarded College of the Canyons a $372,000 grant from the Rising Scholars Network.

Funds have been set aside to create an on-campus program dedicated to justice-related student servicesin consideration for the college’s existing programming at county jails, including the Pitchess Detention Center (PDC).

“Our goal is to make Rising Scholars students feel welcome and safe on our college campus so they can achieve their academic and professional goals,” said Dianne Avery, Dean of Academic Innovation and continuing education at the COC. “We want them to be aware of the student services available to them, including employment opportunities, to ultimately prevent them from returning to the prison system.

The funds are expected to be distributed to include an on-campus Rising Scholars coordinator position to work alongside the college’s Rising Scholars faculty coordinator, as well as a dedicated part-time advisor, beginning in fall 2022, according to the COC officials.

Since 2019, the college has offered justice-related student services and individual counseling services to PDC students to mirror the services offered to COC students on campus, officials said.

“These services are the same counseling services we provide to our on-campus students for academic, resource and career guidance with a dedicated counselor who is also available to students upon release,” Avery said. “This is currently happening in a PDC facility with plans to expand to all facilities.”

Plans are also underway to include employment opportunities for students involved in justice through the creation of industry partnerships with Santa Clarita businesses, according to Avery.

“We want to make sure students have the skills to successfully apply for positions that industry partners need or require,” Avery said. “This is the most critical final step we need to incorporate into our programming in order to close the loop, ensuring we have a holistic approach to meeting the needs of our Rising Scholars.”

California Community Colleges Rising Scholars Programs provide justice-related student services to more than 20,000 students in prisons, jails, juvenile detention centers and campuses across the state.

The Rising Scholars Network was created in 2020 to increase the number of justice-engaged students participating and succeeding at community colleges.

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