Foundation awards stimulate campus projects

By Cindy Pantoja, Opinion Editor

The Contra Costa College Foundation launched a pilot fund that awarded $58,000 to finance eight projects aimed at supporting student success and providing the resources needed to achieve academic goals.

The Foundation’s new Program Innovation Fund was created in 2018 with a goal to develop an idea or project that created opportunities for students and aided with student retention.

“This a program meant to benefit students,” Foundation Development Officer Sara Marcellino said. “It’s for staff and faculty. It was an application base program last fall.”

Once the application period was closed, the submissions were reviewed by a committee of CCC Foundation Board members.

Marcellino said some of the criteria considered for this project required the initiatives to outline how the funding will directly impact students.

The Library and the Learning Center also partnered to become part of the eight projects funded by the Innovation Fund.

They were awarded $5,000 to invest in a whiteboard wall for the Media Lab and soundproofing panels for the tutoring area of the Learning Center.

Tutoring Program Coordinator Brandy Gibson said they have been trying to figure out a way to make learning more productive in the tutoring area at peak hours when approximately 50 people, students and tutors, are speaking at the same time.

“We’re investing in sound masking equipment. This is equipment that is usually deployed in call centers and really loud environments,” Gibson said. “They’ll put units in the ceiling. When it gets loud, we can use a remote control to sort of dampen the sound. It keeps the speech sound waves from traveling.”

Sparkpoint and Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOPS) have been working together since 2016 and this time they formed a partnership to become part of the fund.

The funds will strengthen existing student services by ensuring that every EOPS student receives financial education through Sparkpoint.

“We applied for a state grant together and that grant, unfortunately, was not successful. But it gave us a framework that let us walk through the kind of thinking about what we could do more formally,” Sparkpoint Coordinator Bill Bankhead said.

The projected outcomes of this partnership are to increase EOPS enrollment and to increase its retention.

“All EOPS students, new and continuing, are strongly encouraged to co-enroll in Sparkpoint, although, is not an absolute requirement. We think is a really smart idea for everybody,” Bankhead said. “There is an EOPS section of Counseling 120 that I’m doing with two presentations specifically on financial content.”

Sparkpoint will also focus its attention on financially educating students in the CARE program — a resource for single parents.

Students, particularly the students who are parents in the EOPS program, are required to attend two three-hour workshops throughout the semester in order to receive their full EOPS grant, Bankhead said

“Sparkpoint workshops are one of the options for meeting that requirement. They (students) can also go to Career Services, or transfer workshops or the Student Success workshops for retention. There are several other options, but Sparkpoint counts for that,” Bankhead said.

Sparkpoint is also planning to hire someone who can help with their marketing and outreach. This position is restricted to students who are currently in good standing with EOPS and have had experience working with Sparkpoint.

Business major Valentino Cooper said, “All these projects are bound to be a good start toward improving students’ college experience. It will also be helpful if some tables and chairs could be added to the sitting areas in the General Education Building because it is very common to see students working on assignments or eating on the floor.”