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The California Community Colleges head reveals plans for Black History Month, Cal Fresh and more in inaugural meeting.

On Feb. 1, Interim Chancellor Daisy Gonzales hosted the first student media teleconference of the semester. The meeting emphasized topics including Black History Month, the Equal Employment Opportunity Handbook, CalFresh and California Volunteers and how they benefit students.

At Las Positas, the Black Education Association is hosting events throughout the month of February for Black History Month. The Market, which is free food distribution, is held on the fourth Tuesday of the month starting at noon. 

Gonzales inaugurated the meeting by acknowledging Black History Month, which starts in February. She said Black History Month is a time when black faculty and students’ voices should be celebrated and that the motto for this month is “vision to action.”

This is “only the beginning of the commitment we need to make year-round,” Gonzales said.  

Black Student Success week will be held in April on community college campuses across California. There will be activities and webinars held and all students are encouraged to participate.

Recognizing students was a common theme of the meeting. Gonzales acknowledged all students who have worked on the 2022 Equal Employment Opportunity Handbook as it was essential to have the student perspective. “The updated handbook is the cumulative effort of decades of courageous and intentional leadership to ensure equitable student educational opportunity and success.” It was a process four years in the making.

According to the handbook, “the (Board of Governors) board reaffirmed its commitment to increasing the racial and ethnic diversity of the faculty and staff in our system with the adoption of the DEI Integration Plan, which outlined the implementation strategy for the 68 recommendations to recruit, retain, and support faculty and staff of color.” 

Gonzales said students should be enthusiastic about encouraging diverse hiring practices. Additionally, Gonzales wants local communities to have equal opportunities when hiring as well.

California Volunteers, a program that was implemented Jan. 14, 2022, at California colleges, is “paid work-based learning” that allows Californians to give back to their community while being compensated for their work. 

The first cohort of the program included students tutoring and mentoring their peers, providing climate action and working in local food pantries. According to Gonzales, 3,000 students statewide earned 10,000 dollars through the program. California Volunteers is partnered with 46 college campuses across the state and applications are currently closed for additional partner campuses.

California Volunteers wants to expand into childcare resources for students as well. The program will provide job opportunities while also cultivating an environment that provides education for students. 

While organizations like California Volunteers can help students earn money and afford tuition, there are still many barriers to attending and staying enrolled for community college students.. These barriers include difficulty prioritizing school work, affording college and finding childcare. The top barrier students face is hunger. 

To appease this issue, CalFresh, an organization that provides access to food pantries and additional food sources, widened their criteria to qualify for resources so students are able to access them with ease. Chancellor Gonzales said many community college students are eligible for this program.

“Students want a seamless experience,” Chancellor Gonzales said. Students attending a California Community College should not have to worry about themself or their families being hungry, she continued. 

All campuses have a basic needs coordinator to help students get what they need. For more information about resources available at community colleges, go to

Natalie Kruger is a staff writer for the Express. Follow her @_natalie_kruger.


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