Santiago Canyon College’s Student Support Programs Receive Two Coveted Federal Grants to Help Local Underrepresented Students
(Orange, CA) – Santiago Canyon College (SCC) has been awarded two Student Success Services (SSS) congressional awards totaling $260,000 yearly over a five-year time span. One was a renewal award for SCC’s TRIO program, and the second was a new award for SCC’s TRIO-Veterans’ program. Only 1,100 are awarded every five-year grant cycle.
The TRIO-SSS Program will be focusing on two areas with these grant funds: providing flexible and affordable in-demand career pathways for students; and providing knowledge and skills so students are financially literate.
Even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, “we haven’t skipped a beat in providing services to our students,” said Dr. LaKyshia Perez, Director of Special Programs who runs SCC’s TRIO-SSS Program. “We have increased our communication with students, even if that means on the weekend or evenings. Every TRIO staff member comes from a similar background of the students we serve. This is what makes TRIO unique; we are resilient.” Dr. Perez and her team will be using video conferences, mailed monthly interactive toolboxes, customized campus materials, and much more so their students have access to the various campus resources during this time.
The Veterans-SSS Program is a new one for SCC. Joseph Alonzo who runs SCC’s Veterans Service Office and Veterans-SSS Program is excited by the prospect this new grant brings.
“It will allow us to expand our foundation and provide our students the holistic support they will need to meet their academic goals,” he said. “Through counseling, tutoring, mentorship, and much more, we hope to ensure that any student veteran attending SCC, gets the services and resources they need and deserve.”
With their funding, Alonzo is hoping to hire additional staff and increase the ability of the staff he has to provide more one-on-one attention, as well as bring additional services and programs to his student veterans. He recognizes that in this remote environment, it is even more critical to stay connected with students, to the additional support through online advising, counseling, mentorship, socializing, and tutoring that need to be developed in a meaningful way. And, this grant will allow them to do just that.
“This is a huge achievement for the campus, and the district, especially given the current state of the economy and institutional budgets,” added Alonzo. “Very few new programs are awarded, and programs that focus on veterans are fewer nationwide and less likely to be awarded. Our college is lucky to have two TRIO grants.”
Born out of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, TRIO Programs, also known as TRIO-SSS Programs at SCC, are administered nationwide and provide equitable resources to help first-generation college students, students who qualify for financial aid, and students with disabilities succeed in college. SSS Programs help students with basic college requirements and educational support, such as peer tutoring. They also provide information on financial aid resources, encourage students to complete their degrees or certificates and help students find ways to remove barriers keeping them from finishing their goals.
SCC’s TRIO-SSS Programs have been very successful in increasing students’ retention and graduation rates.
“90 percent of our students visit us weekly, and 94 percent are receiving a 2.0 grade point average or better,” Dr. Perez said. “Last year was the first time we were able to track how many students received an associate degree. We had 38 percent earn their associate, and 29 percent earned an associate and transferred to a four-year university.”
“We are fortunate in Orange County to have top-notch schools like Santiago Canyon College,” said Congresswoman Katie Porter. “It is critical our community’s most vulnerable students—low-income students, first-generation students, and students with disabilities—have the resources they need to succeed in college, including access to financial aid counseling, academic support, and more. I’m thrilled that SCC was awarded a federal TRIO SSS grant, which will strengthen the vital work they are already doing to help Orange County students.”
Alonzo, Dr. Perez and their teams are dedicated to ensuring each student receives individual attention and support. When Dr. Perez meets a new student, she asks them to share something about themselves.
Her favorite thing to share with them?
“’You’re the best, do not let anyone tell you otherwise.’ So many times, they get silent, not knowing how to respond,” she said. ‘They ask, ‘why am I the best?’ I say to them because there is no other version of you, you are the best.”
Dr. Perez recalls an email she received recently from a former TRIO-SSS student who transferred to CSU Long Beach a year ago. He wanted to thank her and let her know how the program helped him:
“I cannot find the words to do justice in describing how helpful and amazing the SCC TRIO program truly is. Thank you for believing in me when I could not, thank you for giving me my first job as a tutor, thank you for all the resources that TRIO provides. I hope all current students are taking advantage of those resources [with] the level of personal attention and support SCC TRIO provides. Thank you for being amazing.”
Learn more about SCC’s TRIO Programs at: www.sccollege.edu/StudentServices/SSSTRiO/
About Santiago Canyon College
Santiago Canyon College (SCC) serves more than 17,000 credit and noncredit students each semester. In 2017, SCC was ranked 13th among the 50 Best Community Colleges in the U.S. by College Choice and is currently ranked 3rd in California by bestcolleges.com, a leading authority in college and university rankings and resources. The college prepares students for transfer to four-year institutions and careers, and provides courses for personal and professional development, as well as customized training for business and industry. The college is recognized for its adult education program which keeps the working adult - and senior - in mind by offering flexible schedules, and community locations. Serving the residents of Anaheim Hills, Orange, Tustin, and Villa Park, SCC is one of two comprehensive colleges under the auspices of the Rancho Santiago Community College District.