Cal Poly SLO students will be paid for community service



A large sign marks the Grand Avenue entrance to the Cal Poly college campus in San Luis Obispo.

A new program connects Cal Poly students with on- and off-campus organizations to address issues related to climate change, food insecurity and education.

The AmeriCorps College Fellowship, also known as College Corps, is a new statewide initiative created by Governor Gavin Newsom that will provide students at California universities with service-learning opportunities while throughout the 2022-2023 academic year, according to the Cal Poly Service Center in Action.

Cal Poly’s College Corps program was funded by a state grant of $10.6 million. Kick-off is scheduled for this fall.

The grant is a joint effort of Cal Poly’s Student Affairs and Academic Affairs divisions.

A total of 165 Cal Poly students will be selected for the scholarship, according to Erin PJ Pearse, director of the University of San Luis Obispo’s Climate Leadership and Resilience Initiative.

Each student selected for the program will receive a $10,000 stipend in exchange for 450 hours of work for the group they are associated with, said Cal Poly math professor Pearse.

Of that amount, $3,000 will depend on their completion of the program, the Center for Service in Action website said.

Due to the nature of the program’s stipend, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients were “especially encouraged to apply,” Cal Poly said.

Pearse said Cal Poly applied for the program grant in December as the initiative looked for ways to support climate change research and off-campus participation.

The effort to apply for the grant was led by Pearse as well as Bradley Kyker and Jason Mockford, who work in leadership and service in Cal Poly’s student affairs division, according to Matt Lazier, assistant vice president of the university for external communications and media relations. .

When he found out on January 15 that Cal Poly had received the grant, “I was beyond thrilled. I kissed my dean,” Pearse said. “Tit’s really going to provide a lot of labor specifically for the campus pantry, facilities services (from Cal Poly), and then also for the local climate coalition, which is doing a lot of work and outreach here for a certain number of other non-profit environmental organizations.

Pearse said the fellows, who were notified of their selection in late June, will be matched with organizations based on student interests. Participating organizations include the San Luis Coastal Unified School District, City Farm SLO and SLO Climate Solutions.

In addition to stipends, fellows may also be able to receive college credit for their community service projects, Pearse said, and some of their work may be included in students’ senior projects.

“Some people will work with farmers, teaching them regenerative farming techniques,” Pearse said. “By doing this they can keep notes of what they did and how it worked.”

The initiative’s “big focus” is on climate action, Pearse said, although fellows are also matched with organizations in other fields.

“Our role here as a very progressive climate community is not so much to sound the alarm because people have already figured that out,” Pearse said. “It’s to lead by example and start making substantial efforts on the pitch.”

Lauren Londoño, a fourth-year nutritional science student at Cal Poly, said she was excited to join the program as a Climate Action Fellow this fall.

Londoño hopes to be matched with the facilities department at Cal Poly, where she has worked as part of the Green Campus team for the past year.

The team, according to Londoño, is made up of student interns who promote sustainability and plan events around conservation, such as an annual energy divestment campaign.

“We hope to work on campus engagement – ​​just rekindling that community to be passionate about sustainability and conservation, and then how they can make a difference or what they can do,” said Londoño.

In addition to supporting the fellowship, the Initiative for Climate Leadership and Resilience hopes to eventually become an institute, Pearse said, to expand support for other sustainability efforts that may require expert knowledge of the climate. part of the students, such as mechanical engineering or architecture.

This story was originally published July 15, 2022 5:00 a.m.

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Mariana Duran is a reporting intern at the San Luis Obispo Tribune. She is a double major in Media Studies and Cognitive Science at Pomona College.

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