Grant ends, financial aid program fizzles out

Single Stop USA depletes $74,000 contract, cannot find alternative support

By Mike Thomas, Scene Editor

Single Stop USA is no longer available at Contra Costa College. The grant program ended at the conclusion of the spring 2015 semester due to a lack of funding from both the organization and CCC.

Single Stop, a nonprofit organization that provides people living in poverty opportunities to make their living situation better, had been assisting students at CCC for three years before its termination.

“Single Stop USA came to us three-and-a-half years ago and its proposal was they would actually fund a position at CCC,” Interim President Mojdeh Mehdizadeh said.

The grant program did fund itself the first year while establishing itself at CCC. However, at the end of spring 2013 semester, the program turned to CCC to help with its funding, Mehdizadeh said. Single Stop proposed a partnership with the college to split the costs.

According to Business Office Supervisor Nick Dimitri, the initial grant was for $74,000.

Teresea Archaga, former CCC Single Stop manager, said, “Funding started to dwindle, so Single Stop had to attach itself to CalWORKs and EOPS to stay at CCC.”

Archaga, now the Los Medanos College director of students and retention support services, said during her time at CCC from 2012-15 she managed Single Stop while also working in the EOPS/CalWORKs Office.

She said her usual clients consisted of students sent to her when their financial aid fell through, or if they needed financial or legal advice.

“Single Stop is a way of supporting financial barriers by providing coaching and legal services for students,” Archaga said. “I made things easier for students who were struggling financially.”

The financial coaching and legal services for the program was through an external provider, Mission San Francisco Community Financial Center. This organization is also an nonprofit and was associated with Single Stop at CCC.

“So essentially the manager would be responsible for ensuring that the area is staffed, and (responsible for) programs like tax services, screening services for various social services programs and also training around use of our financial resources,” Mehdizadeh said.  “Those were the main things they provided, but with external providers they partnered with.”

The college is currently exploring a similar program called SparkPoint. It is a program created by United Way of the Bay Area that provides the same types of resources as Single Stop, like financial coaching and legal services.

This program also offers a food pantry from food banks. However, CCC is in the beginning stages of considering adding the program to the campus, so there is a chance SparkPoint will not be at CCC, Dean of Student Services Vicki Ferguson said.

“It offered legal and financial coaching, legal services, assistance applying for CalWORKs and CalFresh benefits and tax preparations during the spring,” she said.

On Sept. 28, the interim president and some faculty visited Skyline College to get a glimpse of how SparkPoint is set up there.

“Skyline, being a bigger college, had its own center for SparkPoint in the Career Center,” she said.