Funds will help students get “a second chance”

By Staff Reports

Gavilan College received $1.5 million from the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, during the next five years, to create the “Gavilan College Higher Aspirations Juvenile Justice Program,” a part of the Rising Scholars Network, beginning in January.

The college’s goal is to expand its Higher Aspirations Program to now serve juveniles who are system-impacted in the Santa Clara and San Benito counties in three areas:

1) Academic course offerings within detention centers and alternative high schools

2) Transition into campus programming

3) Access to wrap-around supports providing basic needs such as food, transportation, shelter, books, and mental health support.

“Everyone deserves a second chance,” Gavilan Superintendent/President, Dr. Pedro Avila said. “This grant is an investment from California to use higher education to mitigate the impacts of mass incarceration. Gavilan College has the unique opportunity to lead the state’s efforts in helping reduce recidivism, change lives, and build stronger communities. These are perfect examples of our equity efforts in action.”

Gavilan intends to help students through high-touch case management, personal, academic and career counseling, access to internships and apprenticeship opportunities, peer mentoring, in person, online, and hybrid academic course/program offerings, and direct support services. The college is well positioned to scale the current Rising Scholars program.

Gavilan will work with these continuation schools and juvenile halls in both counties.

  • San Benito County Juvenile Hall
  • San Andreas in Hollister
  • Mt. Madonna in Gilroy
  • James Ranch in Morgan Hill
  • Santa Clara County Juvenile Hall
  • Central High School in Morgan Hill.

“The project came to fruition because of the collaboration of dedicated individuals in Student Services and Academic Affairs who are committed to the success of youth in our community,” Gavilan’s Assistant Superintendent and Vice President of Student Services, Dr. Renee Craig-Marius said.

The funds will be used to develop a program structure, hire a full-time staff member dedicated to the Juvenile Justice program, provide support to the Higher Aspirations Counselor/Coordinator, and scale the peer mentor program. Additionally, funds will be used to offer robust opportunities for professional development as well as community partnering and collaboration. Gavilan will provide a variety of direct support services to Juvenile Justice students to ensure their academic and basic needs are met both in and outside of the classroom.

Gavilan College is one of 113 California Community Colleges, a part of the largest system of higher education in the world. Gavilan serves 8,600 students across Santa Clara and San Benito counties. At Gavilan College students can prepare to transfer to a university, get training in a skilled career, build academic skills, or attain needed classes for career advancement. Gavilan offers a more community-oriented and personalized experience than students might find at a larger school, with high educational quality and access to technology.