College of Marin Launches New Programs for ESL & Underserved Students

College of Marin


Marin Community Foundation Awards Two One-Year Grants Totaling $330,000

Kentfield, CA— July 22, 2010 —Underserved student populations in Marin County and English as a Second Language students will be receiving much-needed support toward their education goals at College of Marin thanks to generous funding from the Marin Community Foundation.

“The college is very appreciative of Marin Community Foundation’s support of these important initiatives,” says A.J. Harrison who is serving as College of Marin’s Superintendent/President. “These funds will provide new opportunities for students that would otherwise not have access to higher education.”

College Readiness Initiative
The first grant of $250,000 will help the college launch a College Readiness Initiative, a comprehensive effort to support and encourage students who have not traditionally enrolled in the college – primarily students who are first generation college students and those who are financially disadvantaged.

Although public school students in Marin fare well overall by comparison to other California counties, there is a troubling academic performance gap among students from different ethnic/racial backgrounds and among the public schools they attend, according to Andrien. Marin’s white and Asian American students outpace Latino and African American students on every key metric: graduation rates, performance on the California Standards Test, the California High School Exit Exam, SAT scores, satisfying A-G course requirements and admissibility rates to the University of California and California State University systems.

“There is a very large achievement gap,” Andrien says. “We would like to have greater participation by these students.”

The College for All Partnership (CAP) is a collaborative effort with the Youth Leadership Institute, Educational Excellence and Equity (E3) and the Parent Services Project to increase the educational performance, college readiness and college enrollment of some of the most academically, socially and economically at-risk students in selected Novato and San Rafael middle and high schools.

A secondary goal of the partnership is to make students aware of the resources available at COM, such as financial aid, the Puente program and Transfer Prep Academy long before they arrive.  Parents who may not be familiar with college preparedness will also receive support as part of the program and paid COM students will serve as mentors for at-risk middle school and high school students.

“Students have been getting to us too late with too little understanding of what is necessary to succeed in college,” Andrien says. “National research shows that middle school is the age when help is crucial.”

“This is a new way for us to pair with community leaders to make a closer connection,” Andrien says. “The idea is to create an almost-literal pipeline to college.”

New ESL Vocational Courses
The second grant of $80,000 will help College of Marin provide nine new ESL vocational courses, including two bridge classes in the upcoming school year. New ESL courses will teach skills for workers in healthcare, childcare, landscape and gardening, restaurant and hotel industries, housekeeping and custodial work and civics and financial literacy.

Sara McKinnon, coordinator for the College of Marin ESL program, a student learning outcome facilitator and president of the Academic Senate, said the grant helps address a vital need. “Given the numbers of immigrant students we have in this county and the numbers working in our hotels, hospitals, restaurants and stores, it’s a good opportunity. It will help them get past entry-level jobs and make sure they have the cultural and linguistic skills they need to move forward in their careers. It also helps the community in terms of providing workers who have linguistic capabilities.”

The college serves more than 1,800 students in noncredit ESL courses and close to 500 in credit ESL classes. The courses are a response to a survey of nearly 800 ESL students conducted earlier this year.

“We’re pleased to be enlisting the talents and commitment of the College of Marin in two critical aspects of our strategic initiative to close the education gap in Marin,” said Thomas Peters, president and chief executive officer of the Marin Community Foundation. “By engaging COM students as mentors to high school students and by helping non-English-speaking students acquire language skills that can help them vocationally, they are contributing to the success of young people who would otherwise fall behind.”


This article is published here.

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