While fulfilling my duty as president/CEO of Compton College, which is to ensure students are prepared for their future, I am also aware of my responsibilities to our community. Making sure the college is a good community steward by supporting the health, wellness, and educational needs of all those we serve is a priority.
New challenges in student enrollment
After a year of experiencing many challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, we face new obstacles in meeting previously set achievement goals pertaining to student enrollment, success, and retention. Starting with enrollment: In my opinion, Compton College enrollment has been impacted more than any other community college in Los Angeles County due to the number of COVID-19 cases and the percentage of COVID-19 related deaths in our community; and the low rate of vaccination of our residents. While we remain focused on the health and safety of our students and employees and continue to offer classes primarily in a virtual format, we realize that many students face extreme difficulties when trying to pay for online classes and other expenses such as housing and food, while also finding time for school among work and family obligations.
How are we facing these challenges?
How can we help? I think about this question every day. After students are enrolled, how do we support students so they can be successful and complete their studies? For the past year, we have created plans and programs that enhance academic and student services, such as online tutoring, counseling, and workshops. Our support extends outside the boundaries of schoolwork, with the goal of eliminating barriers to their education. This past fall, we registered 288 new students for laptop loans, serving a total of 574 students in this program. Our Wi-Fi hot spot loan program logged similar numbers. Students rely on this technology to participate in virtual classrooms and to complete their coursework. We also provided free food delivery to students, including over 5,150 Everytable meals and 510 UberEats vouchers.
More than 80 students accessed Edquity emergency grants this past fall, and 711 students received Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act emergency grants. In total, for the past year, we have distributed $1.3 million in emergency grants.
As we begin to receive the additional funding from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) II and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, we will utilize half of those funds to provide emergency grants and additional support to address our students’ housing and food insecurities. We anticipate disbursing $8 million in emergency aid to Compton College students through September 30, 2023.
COVID and vaccines in our community
In the news and numerous research studies, we also see how our Compton community faces a higher risk of COVID-19 infections and complications from the disease. A recent report further highlights the deep inequities in Los Angeles County’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout and shows Compton among the very lowest rate of those vaccinated. In Compton, records showed that only 5% of residents had received the first dose of the vaccine compared to 25% in areas such as Beverly Hills.
How are we responding to COVID and vaccines in our community?
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and distribution of vaccines, we are providing a safe and healthy environment, from offering ongoing COVID-19 testing for employees and students to making the COVID-19 vaccine available to community members. This opportunity was provided in partnership with Jim Mangia, president & CEO, St. John’s Well Child & Family Center, and Holly J. Mitchell, Los Angeles County Supervisor for the Second District. St. John’s Well Child & Family Center is using our on-campus health center as a vaccination pod, offering 2,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine each week to all groups in Phase 1A, as well as all groups, Phase 1B, Tier 1, according to Los Angeles Country COVID-19 vaccination distribution guidelines. We are sharing vaccine information to the mailboxes of all district residents via postcards that also promote our spring 2021 second-eight-week session, which begins on Saturday, April 17, 2021. By providing the COVID-19 vaccine at our on-campus health center to our community, we are addressing the inequities.
How can you help?
Compton College has a rich history of providing services to students throughout Los Angeles County, many of you attended Compton College, or a family member or a friend attended Compton College. We need your help letting others know about Compton College and the many opportunities and supports that are available to Compton College students. We have courses available for the spring 2021 second-eight-week session, which begins on Saturday, April 17, 2021. Help us tell our story, consider enrolling at Compton College, tell family members, your neighbors, and your friends about enrolling at Compton College. For more information on Compton College and to register for classes, please visit our website at www.compton.edu.
This is important work, and it is my honor to serve our community and our students. By offering our support on several levels, we can contribute to the health and safety of all. Please encourage individuals to register now for Compton College classes to begin or complete their educational journey.
Dr. Keith Curry is the President of the Compton College and CEO of the Compton Community College District. Compton College is the 114th California Community College. Dr. Curry is responsible for overseeing all departments and functions of Compton College and the District and serves as secretary for the CCCD Board of Trustees. He brings an abundance of energy and innovative ideas to Compton College, along with a wealth of experience as a postsecondary education administrator. Dr. Curry earned his doctorate in educational leadership from the University of California, Irvine, and a bachelor’s degree in American studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Dr. Curry is an adjunct faculty member for the College of Educational at California State University, Fullerton.