Daily Archives: October 2, 2014

SparkPoint at Skyline College Funded to Support National Expansion of the Working Families Success Network

Sparkpoint LogoAchieving the Dream (ATD) announces a national community college expansion of the Working Families Success Network (WFSN) strategy. Sixteen community colleges in four states will implement the strategy —now used at over 100 sites in the nation to help low-income individuals and families achieve financial stability — to promote post-secondary completion for students whose economic challenges can thwart their academic and career goals.

The strategy is based on a model pioneered by the Annie E. Casey Foundation which SparkPoint at Skyline College has been implementing in partnership with United Way of the Bay Area since 2010. Part of the division of Student Services under the leadership of Vice President of Student Services Dr. Joi Lin Blake, SparkPoint at Skyline College has modeled effective practices that were featured in the WFSN College Implementation Guide, which was used by ATD during the request for applications period that launched this initiative.  The WFSN strategy involves intentionally integrating and sequencing three distinct but related services:

  1. Education and employment advancement—education, job readiness, training, and placement;
  2. Income and work supports—access to student financial aid, public benefits, tax credits, and free tax assistance; and
  3. Financial services and asset building—financial education and coaching linked to affordable products and services to help families build self-sufficiency, stabilize their finances, and become more economically competitive.

The four state partner organizations and 16 colleges are displayed in the associated graph.

The four state partner organizations and 16 colleges

These colleges and state partner organizations were selected through a competitive application process that assessed commitment to racial equity and poverty reduction as well as the colleges’ demonstrated ability to support student success using data-informed decision-making.

This effort is supported with funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Bank of America Charitable Foundation, Lumina Foundation, MetLife Foundation, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

“Our goal is to support students who have already taken a big step toward their long-term financial success by addressing the short-term economic challenges that can get in their way,” said Rosa Maria Castañeda, a senior associate at the Annie E. Casey Foundation. “This expansion builds on the momentum behind the Working Families Success Network strategy as well as the efforts of colleges across the country to find smarter ways to help low-income students cross the finish line.”

Skyline College President Regina Stanback Stroud, who was recently appointed by President Obama to the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability for Young Americans, U.S. Treasury, sees this work as integral to being an effective institution in higher education. In an article published in the Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity, President Stroud wrote, “… more community colleges will need to recognize the importance of anti-poverty work as part of an effective strategy for student access, progress, retention, and achievement. As more and more low-income students turn to community colleges to help them pursue their dreams and support their families, these institutions and their students will only succeed by addressing a major obstacle to student advancement—poverty.”

For more information about the national community college expansion of the WFSN strategy, please visit www.achievingthedream.org/resources/initiatives/working-families-success-network.

For more information about the Working Families Success Network, please visit www.workingfamiliessuccess.org.

For more information about SparkPoint at Skyline College, please visit www.skylinecollege.edu/sparkpoint, or contact Dr. William Watson, SparkPoint Director, at william.watson@smccd.edu.

Article by Dr. William Watson

ESOL Courses Unite Students from Around the Globe through the English Language

Students in ESOL CourseStudents in the ESOL courses at Skyline College are excellent examples of the global community of learners we strive to empower and transform. Take a peek and you will find people who come from across the globe who are part of Skyline College’s diverse community.

In Meegan Rivera’s ESOL 400 class, 19 countries are represented in a class of 29 students. Students who have immigrated from the Czech Republic, Algeria, Iraq, Peru, and Burma are taking courses to advance their futures. Meegan states, “Our classroom teems with discussion. Everyone has a lot to learn from each other, and we do it all in English!”

This kind of diversity is normal across ESOL classes of every level and skill at Skyline College. Most ESOL classes average about 14 countries represented in a class. Julie Carey has 17 countries in her class this semester.  Julie says, “What makes teaching students from so many different countries—I can’t recall ever having fewer than 12 countries represented in my classroom – incredible is that, though students come from all corners of the globe to study here at Skyline, they share one common goal, belief, dream—the American Dream.  It is a dream that I am so often cynical of and take for granted.  But their capacity for believing in our educational system and the opportunities that system provides makes teaching at Skyline College the most rewarding and fulfilling work I have ever done.”

This diversity is a point of pride in the ESOL department and enriches Skyline College’s community of learners.

Article & Photo by Meegan Rivera

Skyline College Students Attend Puente Transfer Motivational Conference at UC Davis

Puente Students at UC Davis On an overcast Saturday morning, 30 Puente students gathered before 7:00 a.m. at Skyline College to take a bus to UC Davis for the annual Puente Transfer Motivational Conference, this year held on September 20. Blas Guerrero, a Director in Admissions and Timo Rico, the Director of Outreach, welcomed students to the event. The keynote speaker, author Alex Espinoza, spoke of his tale of personal and academic transformation that began during his days as a Puente student.

Afterwards, students were able to take campus tours where they saw many of the campus amenities as well as the beautiful artwork that adorns the sprawling campus. They also attended a variety of workshops including learning how to succeed as an AB-540 student, empowering oneself as a learner, how best to pay for college, and showcase of different majors at UC Davis. During lunch they were able to check out other colleges as well as programs at UC Davis in a special college fair set up specifically for them.

Puente Students at UC DavisAs we returned to Skyline College at 5:30 that evening, the consensus was that the students not only enjoyed the trip, but made some excellent contacts and felt excited about transferring. This conference was indeed impactful in motivating them to transfer and highlighted UC Davis as a school to consider.

Article by Lucia Lachmayr

Skyline College Hosts Second Annual Success Summit

Christy DingesThe Skyline College President’s Council convened its second annual Success Summit on Sept. 26 in the College’s Student and Community Center. The Summit was formed to create an avenue for solution-oriented discussion to meet the challenges of San Mateo County’s North Peninsula region. Event organizers challenge the roughly 120 participants from the local business, government, nonprofit, and College communities to “imagine a better future…close the gap between what is and what can be.” At the end of each summit, participants vote to select one initiative to tackle during the coming year.

This year’s Success Summit began with a progress update on last year’s selected initiative, “The Last Mile,” which sought to identify and create sustainable opportunities for the Skyline College community, including students, faculty and staff, to conveniently and economically travel to the campus. The challenge is a steep one; given Skyline College’s location and limited public transit options, travel time to campus can be 45 minutes, or upwards of an hour and 15 minutes.

Over the past year, the President’s Council has partnered with the City of San Bruno to identify areas where the city’s Climate Action Plan overlaps with the College’s needs, including reducing the number of single-occupancy cars traveling to campus. Other key partners include Commute.org and the San Mateo County Transportation Authority.

Skyline Success SummitThe Council has also collected data to accurately assess how faculty, staff and students commute to campus. Unsurprisingly, the surveys found that commute starting points vary widely and that travel time (74%), convenience (56%), cost (48%) and reliability (26%) are the primary considerations students take into account when they commute to campus.

The Council is currently looking into funding shuttles traveling to and from the San Bruno BART Station and expanding carpool opportunities and flex peak time bus routes in order to create an affordable, timely and public transit-based solution to the issue of the Last Mile. Additional progress will be shared at next year’s event.

Following this update, this year’s Keynote Speaker, Christy Dinges, Vice President, People at social selling and fashion company Stella & Dot, delivered opening remarks on her company’s success in empowering women and her personal mission to “find your best self, help others do that too, and unlock their dreams.” Her remarks reflected the youth and energy of the Stella and Dot brand and she underscored the need to consistently innovate to stay relevant and successful.

Attendees then selected two of three separate breakout sessions that each explored a separate topic relating to the local community.

“What’s in it for us? Collectively Addressing the Socioeconomic Divide” aimed to address a vision for next steps to collaboratively meet community needs and address socioeconomic inequality, especially on Skyline College’s campus. The session was moderated by Nicole Pollack, Director, San Mateo County Workforce and Economic Development.

The second session, “City Manager Roundtable: Innovations for our Cities”, was moderated by State Assemblymember Kevin Mullen and hosted city managers from San Bruno, Daly City, Colma, Pacifica and South San Francisco. Each presented new programs in their city, followed by a question and answer period.

Finally, “Hidden Gems, Hidden Opportunities: What’s unique, what’s possible?” sought to address ways to promote, enhance and add to the resources and amenities of the San Mateo North County. The session was moderated by Anne LeClair, president and CEO of the San Mateo County/Silicon Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau

At the end of the sessions, participants came together to vote electronically on which issue they would take on in the coming year. Winning by a narrow margin was “Hidden Gems, Hidden Opportunities,” followed closely by “What’s in it for us?” As a result, the President’s Council will partner with community leaders to increase connection and collaboration and create a plan to spread the word about resources available in the North County over the coming year.

Article by Connor Fitzpatrick | Photos by Maryam Hadi

Coming Up…

Friday October 3, 2014

  • 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m., Skyline College Men’s Soccer @ West Valley College for a Conference Match, Saratoga
  • 7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m., Skyline College Wrestling @ Menlo College for Dual Match, Atherton

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

  • 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m., Skyline College Women’s Soccer v. City College of San Francisco, Conference Division Match, Skyline College
  • 1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m., Mexican Consulate Talk on Human Rights, Skyline College, Building 4, Multi-Cultural Room
  • 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m., Skyline College Men’s Soccer v. Evergreen Valley College in a Conference Match, 2nd game of a double-header, Skyline College
  • 6:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m., Car Care Basics for Women, Skyline College

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

  • 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m., Disability Awareness Month – SSI/SDI: What You Need to Know, Skyline College, Building 1, Career Center
  • 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m., Skyline College Wrestling Dual Match @ Santa Rosa Junior College, Santa Rosa
  • 7:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m., Theater Performance:  Tres Vidas, Skyline College, Building 1, Theatre

Thursday, October 9, 2014

  • 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m., Blood Drive, Skyline College, Building 6, 2nd Floor
  • 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m., Career Series – STEM – Professional Engineers Q&A with SHPE and SWE, Skyline College, Building 4, Room 4301
  • 6:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m., Car Care Basics for Women, Skyline College

Friday, October 10, 2014

  • 1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m., Skyline College Women’s Soccer @ Ohlone College, Conference-Division Match, Fremont
  • 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m., Skyline College Men’s Soccer @ Gavilan College for a Conference Match, Gilroy

For the latest information on events and activities happening at Skyline College, please view our calendar.

If you would like to include your college event or activity on the calendar, please submit the event, date, time and location to Jennifer Owen-Blackmon via email at owenblackmonj@smccd.edu.