Campaign Launched to Raise Relief and Resources for Students Impacted by COVID-19 Pandemic

Campaign Launched to Raise Relief and Recovery Resources for California Community College Students Impacted by COVID-19 Pandemic

Initiative aims to ensure continuity of learning and provide solutions to meet California’s immediate and long-term workforce needs

SACRAMENTO, CA—April 13, 2020—The Foundation for California Community Colleges (Foundation), in partnership with the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, has launched a Relief and Recovery Campaign, a statewide emergency response effort to the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. The effort will engage philanthropic foundations, corporate partners, and individual donors to ensure students stay enrolled and continue learning during the crisis, and that our state is prepared to meet both the immediate and long-term workforce needs of our rapidly-evolving economy.

In alignment with Governor Gavin Newsom’s statewide “stay at home” order (recently extended through April 30), the 116 California Community Colleges and their 2.1 million students shifted courses from in-person to remote instruction for the time being. This transition has intensified already-existing barriers to education faced by many low-income Californians today, including inadequate or unreliable technology. Coupled with challenges related to loss of wages, students are struggling to build a better life for themselves and their families through a community college education.

The Relief and Recovery Campaign is actively raising resources to address these concerns and improve students’ lives and learning during the pandemic, and to support the state’s recovery. 

One of the first initiatives to result from the Relief and Recovery Campaign is the “First Response Healthcare Student Support Fund” (First Response Fund). Funds raised will help students who are facing adverse financial impacts of COVID-19 with their ability to stay enrolled and complete their education in California Community Colleges, while also helping address California’s pressing need to advance students in specific health care fields into its health care system. An estimated seven in ten of people in nursing and allied health are trained in community colleges.

Initial funds of $350,000 from the First Response Fund will go to support nursing students at community colleges across the state and address pressing needs, such as food and household items, rent, technology and connectivity for online learning, fees for licensing exams, and childcare. Up to 1,000 nursing students who are currently enrolled and have financial need will be eligible to receive between $350 and $500 in emergency assistance, distributed in partnership with local community colleges with nursing programs. As more dollars are made available through fundraising efforts, the First Response Fund will be expanded to include students in respiratory therapy, followed by students in paramedic and emergency medical technician programs, and students training to be medical assistants. 

“Governor Newsom recognizes the important role the California Community Colleges play in training our state’s medical workforce,” said California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley. “Our students continue to step up, and it is our responsibility to ensure they are supported and provided necessary resources so that education remains accessible.” 

“The Foundation is honored to partner with the Chancellor’s Office as we secure resources that support students’ ability to continue learning during these challenging times,” said Keetha Mills, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Foundation for California Community Colleges. “Students are at the heart of what we do, and we are dedicated to upholding the promise of community colleges as the greatest gateway to social mobility.”

The Relief and Recovery Campaign is also raising support to ensure the California Community Colleges have the capacity to be responsive to the future of work in a rapidly changing economy. Initial funding provided by a $500,000 grant from The James Irvine Foundation, as part of their overall efforts to protect and advance low-wage workers, will support a project to increase the California Community College system’s capacity to meet the upskilling needs of low-wage workers in California. The project will seek to accelerate innovation and to increase the system’s responsiveness to labor market changes, to ensure Californians have access to opportunities for greater social mobility. 

Entities that can help California Community College students, including philanthropic foundations, corporations, or those interested in making a major gift or grant, are encouraged to contact the Foundation at Individual donations will be used to support students impacted by lost wages, campus closures, and the transition to distance education caused by COVID-19. Give today.

The Relief and Recovery Campaign is a continuation of the immense efforts coordinated by the Chancellor’s Office and local college communities to help students and their families recover, and keep Californians healthy. Many local community college foundations are fundraising for local students and needs. If you’d like to benefit a particular college, we encourage you to visit its website directly. The Chancellor’s Office is also committed to providing accurate and timely information and access to resources during this crisis, which can be found on the system’s website


The Foundation for California Community Colleges is the official nonprofit foundation to the California Community Colleges Board of Governors and Chancellor's Office. The Foundation's mission is to benefit, support, and enhance the missions of the California Community Colleges system, the largest higher education system in the nation. Incorporated in 1998, the Foundation works to benefit all California Community College students, colleges, college foundations, and the system as a whole by accelerating paths to economic and social mobility, strengthening communities, and reducing barriers to opportunities for all Californians. The Foundation is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit organization. For more information, visit

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