Sparkpoint establishes location

Program works to assist people with financial information, aid

By Jaleel Perry, Advocate Staff

SparkPoint now has an office open on the Contra Costa College campus, beginning a partnership that took nearly three years to complete.

The nonprofit partnership organization helps individuals and families achieve financial success by providing free workshops and personal coaching around budgeting, saving money, credit and debit issues, and job searches.

The SparkPoint Office can be found in SA-227, and is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

“It has been a 2 to 3 year process of negotiation and figuring out what works well with the college and what works well with us,” SparkPoint Coordinator Bill Bankhead said.

SparkPoint is a regional partnership around the Bay Area and was first established in 2008 in Oakland. Its first site in Richmond opened up in 2011.

“What’s important is that SparkPoint services are not just for students. We’re also able to serve any faculty and staff to help achieve financial success, and all of our services are completely free for clients,” Bankhead said.

The previous CCC president, McKinley Williams, was the first to encourage that a SparkPoint office be established on campus, and since President Mojdeh Mehdizadeh officially began her term in April, she and SparkPoint have worked very hard to bring the service to the college.

Mehdizadeh expressed excitement about the new office and cited it as part of the college’s commitment to helping students succeed in meeting their goals.

“We certainly saw the need to provide service here on campus,” Mehdizadeh said. “We recognize that more than 10,000 students who go through CCC on an annual basis really need to have the capacity to have financial services available to them in a simpler fashion. I just want to thank my predecessors who made it possible to ultimately have this wonderful center here.”

SparkPoint Director Betty Geishirt Cantrell said, “It was (Williams’) vision and foresight to say I want a SparkPoint center on our campus one day. It’s been five years, so we’re really excited to be able to open a SparkPoint office here on campus.”

SparkPoint held an Open House in late October for faculty and students in celebration of joining CCC with the new financial education services on campus.

College staff and local nonprofit partners joined students in exploring the space and learning more about programs and upcoming workshops.