Several programs to assist African Americans and minority students are available at the nine schools operated by the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD).
According to LACCD Commissioner Sydney Kamlager-Dove, the programs include a free tuition initiative and systems to help emancipated foster students and those who were formerly incarcerated complete their educational goals.
“LACCD will offer free tuition to LAUSD graduates for one year and we’re hopeful that this initiative will steer new students our way,” said Kamlager-Dove, who added that out of 35,000 LAUSD graduates a year, only 7,000 attend LACCD schools.
“Also, if you are a student and earn less than $17,000 a year, you can qualify for a Board of Governors waiver, which exempts your tuition costs,” she said. To obtain an application in English or Spanish, visit laccd.edu or call any of the colleges.
Additional efforts are being directed toward emancipated foster students. The LACCD Board is exploring ways to address student challenges such as financial literacy, mental health, transportation, additional counseling and housing.
“We have 2,500 students in LACCD that self-report as being former foster. The foster students stay enrolled longer, drop out more and may be the only person in their family attempting to attend community college. We are making a concerted effort to beef up our level of support to increase their success numbers,” explained Kamlager-Dove.
Those efforts include an administrator summit with funders in June to develop and implement strategies to assist emancipated foster students and another summit in September inviting the public and the foster community to share ideas with commissioners and staff that will be lead to LACCD being a better partner.
In addition to meeting the needs of its multi-cultural student body, LACCD Commissioners aim to increase the diversity of the faculty. Kamlager-Dove requested diversity audit after LACCD recently hired 163 full-time staff. The results showed that only nine were African American.
“While 54 percent of the people hired were ‘of color,’ if you separate out those numbers, it doesn’t bode well for African Americans,” noted Kamlager-Dove.
“That same audit revealed that about five faculty were Asian-Pacific Islanders. Given the fact that we have huge numbers of students of that ethnicity attending our colleges, it’s also important to look at those numbers,” she said.
The LACCD has launched Project Match to help attract diverse faculty applicants. The program recruits people with diverse backgrounds who interested in teaching, but don’t have academic experience. The individuals are partnered with mentors who prepare them for the faculty applicant pool.
“I want to make sure we are finding qualified applicants that don’t just come from the academic world. That’s why Project Match is so good. It looks for folks that are not in the academic world but have a rich history and career of personal and professional experience that will only benefit our students,” said Kamlager-Dove.
Hoping the various initiatives will increase students and faculty, Kamlager-Dove urged residents to consider enrolling at a LACCD school.
“Don’t count out your community colleges – Southwest, West L.A., Trade Tech, Harbor, L.A. Valley, L.A. City, Mission, East L.A., and Pierce Colleges,” she insisted. “They are here, they are affordable and you have board members who are trying their best to listen and be responsive to the community.”