A group photo with the representives, district officials and students with a giant check for 3.4 million dollars

Congresswoman Sara Jacobs, Congressman Scott Peters, and Congressman Juan Vargas present a ceremonial check for $3.4 million to representatives from the San Diego Community College District and other members of the community. The funding will benefit students at San Diego City College, Mesa College, Miramar College, and the College of Continuing Education. (SDCCD photo)

Reps. Sara Jacobs, Scott Peters, and Juan Vargas secure $3.4 million for the SDCCD

March 6, 2023 | San Diego Community College District

Members of San Diego’s congressional delegation, including Rep. Sara Jacobs, Rep. Scott Peters and Rep. Juan Vargas, traveled to San Diego Mesa College today to present representatives from the San Diego Community College  District with a check for $3.4 million in funding from the U.S. Congress. 

The funding, approved in December 2022 as part of the fiscal year 2023 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, will benefit district students in three areas:

  • $1.2 million to better serve lesbian, gay, and transgender students,
  • $1 million for an initiative to expand service at the San Diego College of Continuing Education to youths who have recently aged out of the foster care system, and
  • $1.2 million for new and expanded centers serving undocumented students.

“These funds will support the academic success of our students, particularly students who face unique challenges as they pursue their education,” said Carlos O. Cortez, chancellor of the San Diego Community College District. “I want to thank Representatives Sara Jacobs, Scott Peters, and Juan Vargas for championing this funding on our behalf to support these students and our colleges.”

The $1.2 million grant obtained by Rep. Jacobs to support LGBTQIA+ students will be used to create or expand Pride Centers at San Diego City College, San Diego Mesa College, San Diego Miramar College and San Diego College of Continuing Education. The Pride Centers offer a safe space for persons of all sexual or gender identities and provide education, dialogue and research on issues related to sexuality and gender.

The grant will also be used to hire a regional coordinator who will act as a liaison among the many local agencies that provide services for LGBT students. It will also fund an annual leadership academy that encourages students to support the LGBT community, along with a weekly program that develops leadership for LGBT high school and junior high school-aged youth.

“LGBTQ+ youth should be focused on living their lives, but instead many are dealing with mental health issues resulting from the rise of anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric, policies, and violence,” said Congresswoman Sara Jacobs, Vice-Chair of the Congressional Equality Caucus and Co-Chair of the Transgender Equality Taskforce. “That’s why I was so proud to secure $1.2 million to expand the Pride Centers on each of San Diego Community College District’s four campuses and to scale up their Youth Leadership Academy and Pride Youth Collective programs. This funding will expand spaces for LGBTQ+ youth and allies to freely and safely be themselves, and strengthen programs that create community and teach advocacy skills.”

A $1 million grant backed by Rep. Peters will fund the Gateway to College and Career Program at the San Diego College of Continuing Education for former foster care youth. Studies show that 47% of youths who have just aged out of foster care are unemployed, and 33% are or have been homeless. More than 1,500 former foster care youths live in San Diego County.

For the past six years, the Gateway to College and Career program has offered services, learning opportunities, job training and internships to former foster care youth. The program collaborates with social service agencies to provide food, education, and connections with employers for former foster youth.

“Community colleges are an integral part of our region’s educational landscape,” said Rep. Peters. “It’s my job to fight for funding that supports SDCCD’s mission to uplift generations of students, especially those aged out of foster care who enter a new world of opportunity and challenges. I look forward to seeing the success of the Gateway to College and Career Program for years to come.”

A $1.2 million grant sponsored by Rep. Vargas will support Dreamer Resource Centers at the four colleges. The centers serve undocumented students, including Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) students, by offering help with registering for classes, financial aid, and readiness for college and a career.

An estimated 1,200 undocumented students attend City, Mesa and Miramar colleges. Another 2,000 students who are undocumented or come from families with undocumented members attend the non-credit San Diego College of Continuing Education.

The funding will also be used to develop partnerships with community organizations that serve undocumented students and expand outreach at high schools for undocumented students there. The grant will also support an annual Undocumented Student Conference to demonstrate to the college community that the campuses are welcoming and safe for undocumented students.

“Dreamers and undocumented students deserve a fair shot at the American Dream like everyone else, and the great equalizer is a high-quality education,” said Congressman Juan Vargas. “I championed these federal funds in Congress because I knew it would benefit local students right here at home. These Dreamer Resource Centers have the potential to positively benefit thousands of students by offering critical support and financial aid. These are the great things we can accomplish when we put people over politics.” 

As one of the largest of California’s 73 community college districts, the San Diego Community College District serves approximately 100,000 students annually through three two-year colleges and San Diego College of Continuing Education. San Diego City College, San Diego Mesa College, and San Diego Miramar College, offer associate degrees and certificates in occupational programs that prepare students for transfer to four-year colleges and entry-level jobs. Mesa College also offers a bachelor’s degree in Health Information Management. San Diego College of Continuing Education offers noncredit adult education at seven campuses throughout San Diego.

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