CPP students volunteer to paint a mural during a Center for Community Engagement event. (Courtesy of Micayla Anderson)

CPP joins California’s College Corps program to ‘learn by doing good’

By Hannah Smith, Feb. 8, 2022

Cal Poly Pomona will join 44 other California colleges in partnering with California Volunteers to implement the new, service-based College Corps program.  On Jan. 18, the schools selected were announced and plans were made to begin the implementation of College Corps across the chosen campuses.

College Corps is a program, announced by Gov. Gavin Newsom last month, in which students will be given the opportunity to serve their community while earning money for their education. The College Corps program will provide $10,000 toward a student’s education as well as academic credit in exchange for 450 service hours. Students will be able to provide service to community partner organizations that focus on K-12 education, climate action and food insecurity.

“It allows you to earn money to offset the cost,” said Bryant Fairley, director of Cal Poly Pomona’s Center for Community Engagement. “It also allows you to start to get some career skills in the field you hope to go to or at least in fields that really are important to the quality of health in our communities in the same way.”

CPP students volunteer to paint a mural during a Center for Community Engagement event. (Courtesy of Micayla Anderson)

Fairley has been working to implement CPP’s branch of College Corps which will be referred to as Poly Corps. In November 2021, the directors of California college community engagement centers were approached by California Volunteers about this opportunity for schools to apply to implement this new program.

The goals of the College Corps program are to serve local communities while also ensuring that students from diverse backgrounds can further their education while also serving in a field that interests them.

“The beauty of being involved is it really shows this collective action between the UCs, the CSUs, and the community colleges to really improve the quality of life in our community,” said Fairley. “And so, it just further cements what we like to call ‘learn by doing good.’ How through your academics, through your passion, you can apply all those things together and really have a good impact on the world around you.”

The Center for Community Engagement works to provide community-based learning that benefits both the students and residents of Pomona. According to Micayla Anderson, communication specialist for the Office of Academic Innovation, the Center for Community Engagement has hosted service events called Bronco Stampede of Service, such as its 9/11 Day of Service and Remembrance. It also hosts the ongoing CPP KARES project which provides parents and caregivers access to educational resources for children during school closures.

Poly Corps will now be the next service venture for the Center for Community Engagement.

“The Center for Community Engagement helps to make sure that Cal Poly Pomona is a good neighbor in our community, and we do that by working with our faculty to help to design and develop projects that expose students to our community,” added Fairley.

While details on the application process for students is still being decided, CPP’s involvement in the College Corps program has already sparked interest in students.

Monica Say, a computer science student, found out about the program through the news and immediately knew she wanted to get involved.

“The whole part of helping your community, and being able to solve problems in your community, I think that’s one of the main things that really caught my eye about this program,” said Say.

Two years ago, Say started her company, Code with Nano, where she provides coding classes for children. With her program Code 2 Code, for every student who signs up for a coding class, Code 2 Code provides a free coding class for students who may not be able to afford coding classes or who may not be able to be exposed to computer science. Her passion for STEM inspired her to help her community which aligns with the goal of the College Corps program.

Monica Say, founder of Code 2 Code, is excited to be part of Poly Corps. (Courtesy of Monica Say)

Poly Corps applications are anticipated to be available by the end of March and fellowships will begin in August. Any undergraduate student will be eligible to apply for the program including AB 540-eligible students.

“One of the huge impacts that Cal Poly will have with this program that it will impact so many lives in our community and it will help solve a lot of problems that we have in our community,” said Say. “I think that’s the amazing thing about Cal Poly that it really helps others.”

To learn more about Poly Corps, students can visit the Center for Community Engagement website.

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