The San José Evergreen Community College District: Building Opportunity

This is the fourth post in our monthly blog series highlighting the work of the Opportunity Youth Partnership.

The Opportunity Youth Partnership (OYP) is a collective impact initiative in Santa Clara County. Opportunity Youth are 16-24-years-old disconnected from education and/or employment. In Santa Clara County there are over 20,000 Opportunity Youth (see page 31). The OYP’s priority populations are Opportunity Youth who have experienced the justice system, foster systems, and/or homelessness, as well as those who are pregnant/parenting. This initiative brings together community based organizations and nonprofits, public systems, and employers to build pathways to education and career that lead to durable self-sufficiency.

By: Dr. Debbie Budd
Chancellor, San José Evergreen Community College District

Dr. William Watson
Interim Executive Director, Workforce Institute (coming soon- Community College Center for Economic Mobility)

San José Evergreen Community College District (SJECCD) is committed to achieving educational equity. The economics of the world have shifted, and San José and Santa Clara County are at the forefront of the global knowledge economy. That shift has dramatically increased the educational requirements, as well as the financial rewards, for many sectors and individual careers. SJECCD has recognized this shift and the commensurate rise in the value of postsecondary education and training.  We are prepared to meet the educational demand of a 21st century economy and workforce. We are committed to building pathways for all.

In pursuit of this we have been steadily building the supports, services, and culture that will allow all students to thrive at this institution. Our growing relationship with the Opportunity Youth Partnership is a direct result of commitment to creating an inclusive, welcoming, and easy-to-navigate institution of higher education that truly prepares students for a future that works. In pursuit of this future, we are strengthening the structures and programs, and building the culture to provide fertile ground for development and liberation for all youth in San José. Accreditation for our colleges is reaffirmed. Enrollment is up by 10% this year over the previous year.  A $748,000,000 bond will support new facilities.

SJECCD has made substantial investments in broadening access, ensuring the right supports are available at the right time during enrollment and transition, and implementing services that support persistence. Five key pieces of work highlight these efforts: partnering with Mayor Liccardo to launch the San Jose Promise; restructuring programs to create Guided Pathways; supporting the South Bay Consortium for Adult Education and leading the development of transition specialist role; hosting a new SparkPoint center and launching the Community College Center for Economic Mobility. These five initiatives, outlined below, are critical first steps toward meeting the needs of not just Opportunity Youth, but immigrant learners, displaced workers, and other underserved community members.

San José Promise creates a college-going culture (College Is Free).

Guided Pathways for majors are being developed (College Is Clear).

The South Bay Consortium for Adult Education (five adult schools and 4 community colleges) has launched SparkPoint San José to support financial capability of students and others in our community (College Is Promising).

Finally, the SJECCD Workforce Institute is repurposing, rebranding and relocating to become the Community College Center for Economic Mobility.  In simple terms, economic mobility means that the next generation is better off than the parent generation. Community colleges are transformational opportunities for students from our richly diverse communities to achieve their credentials and positively impact economic mobility. The Community College Center for Economic Mobility works to make the complex ecology of opportunity fit together like pieces of a puzzle. When all the pieces fit, we make real the promise of higher education for a better life, economy and democracy.

Because we see Opportunity Youth as a priority population, we are determined to build supports and structures to ensure their educational journey.  We are so grateful to partner with OYP to realize educational opportunity for our future.

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