UC Riverside College Corps fellow.
March 29, 2024

$5 million grant supports community service by UCR students

The Governor’s California Volunteers Office awarded the grant to UCR’s College Corps program

Author: Sandra Baltazar Martínez
March 29, 2024

The University of California, Riverside has received a $5 million grant from the #CaliforniansForAll College Corps program, a community service pilot designed to create debt-free college pathways for low-income students who commit to serve.

This is the second grant UCR has received from the Office of the Governor’s California Volunteers program. UCR’s first grant came in 2022 for $4.8 million. This second grant allows UCR to continue serving the Riverside area by placing more than 150 students in the program’s three priority areas: K-6 education, climate action, and food insecurity. 

“This is an opportunity for undergraduate students to make a difference in their community, while also gaining professional skills, as well as graduate with less debt,” said Jessica Marie Saldivar, program director for UCR College Corps. “Our students support both on-campus or off-campus programs.”

A UCR College Corps fellow tutors at a local school. (UCR)

Since fall 2022 when the program began, the Riverside community has already experienced a positive impact. To date, about 1,600 K-6 students have been tutored; 40,000 individuals have received food through food distribution services; and fellows have harvested nearly 40,000 pounds of fruit and vegetables from local farms, they have engaged more than 4,800 individuals in environmental education, and have planted 101 trees. 

In its first year, more than 3,000 College Corps fellows served over 1.15 million hours in their respective communities, according to the organization. Participating students include AB540 eligible California Dream Act students, known as Dreamers.

UCR is one of seven UCs participating and part of 45 total colleges and universities offering College Corps. College Corps fellows are expected to complete 450 service hours throughout the academic year. In exchange they can receive up to $10,000 in the form of monthly stipends and education awards.

UCR College Corps is recruiting 151 students to start their community service in fall of 2024, applications are open through mid-April. Included in those 151 positions are 19 available for Dreamers. 

The program is proving a success, Saldivar said, with one third of this year’s applications from returning students. Students are placed in one of 27 programs, including UCR’s food pantry, R’Pantry, and campus dining and facility services departments. In the greater Riverside community, students volunteer at local elementary schools or after school programs, farms including UCR’s own R’Garden, Feeding America food bank, or with Riverside’s Ward 2 Councilmember Clarissa Cervantes’s office on climate action initiatives. 

Among those students is Jacob Jauregui, 21. He will start a second year as a College Corps fellow ambassador, meaning he will not only complete 450 hours of service, l also represent UCR College Corps at various events.

“My College Corps experience has been nothing short of fun and rewarding. So much hard work has been done to be able to serve the community, you feel a sense of responsibility for the well-being of your community,” said Jauregui, who is majoring in biology and minoring in statistics. 

Last year he completed his service at the Ruth H. Lewis Community Center-Reid Park tutoring students after school. In the fall he will start his service as a climate action fellow. 

“I encourage others to apply to this program. This is a program where you can learn a lot about yourself through service,” Jauregui said. 

A UCR College Corps fellow volunteers at a food pantry. (UCR)

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