What We Do  /  Equity

Reducing barriers to opportunity for all students by championing student support services.


College access and degree or certificate attainment rates are affected by family income, race and ethnicity, disability, veteran status, English as a second language, history of foster care, mental illness, and incarceration. The Foundation’s equity programs provide quality resources, educational programs, and training for Community Colleges and the students that they serve, especially those who have been historically underrepresented. We are committed to enhancing existing services that assist students who face barriers to pursuing their academic goals, launching careers, maintaining wellness, and becoming active citizens in local communities. 

Focusing on equity was a key part of the California Community Colleges Student Success Initiative and, subsequently, has resulted in an updated student equity planning process and additional state funding to close achievement gaps in access and success in underrepresented student groups as identified at the local college level. The Foundation’s equity programs are in alignment with this top system priority.

Current Programs

California Community Colleges Student Mental Health Program (CCC SMHP) 

Implemented in 2011, the CCC SMHP is a statewide effort focusing on prevention and early intervention strategies which address the mental health needs of California community college students and advance the collaboration between community colleges and community based agencies, in particular, county mental health. The CCC SMHP is a partnership between the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office and the Foundation for California Community Colleges. CCC SMHP is funded by the voter-approved Mental Health Services Act (Prop 63). It is one of several Prevention and Early Intervention Initiatives implemented by the California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA), an organization of California counties working to improve mental health outcomes for individuals, families and communities.

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Dreamers Project

The California Community Colleges Dreamers Project aims to help the Chancellor’s Office and the 116 California Community Colleges effectively respond to recent changes to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The project works to understand the impacts of these changes on DACA program participants and other undocumented students, collectively referred to as Dreamers.

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Foster Youth Housing Project

Through research conducted in partnership with experts and advocates in the housing space, the Foster Youth Housing Project aims to identify opportunities to build student housing to support students and meet the unique needs of more vulnerable populations, with a specific focus on former foster youth. Findings will help inform and create a roadmap for future housing initiatives and developments across the California Community Colleges, aiming to ultimately provide students with more holistic, wrap-around support to help improve economic and social mobility statewide.

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The Foster Youth Success Initiative (FYSI)

The Foster Youth Success Initiative (FYSI) was introduced in 2007 by the California Community College Chancellor’s Office (Chancellor’s Office) by establishing FYSI liaisons in each of the 116 California Community Colleges. FYSI liaisons provide ancillary support to foster youth enrolled in community college. The Foundation’s Statewide FYSI liaison, in close collaboration with the Chancellor’s office and with support from the Walter S. Johnson Foundation, provides and ensures that all Community College FYSI liaisons have access to training that will enable them to provide educational services to foster youth, work to improve the quality of data within the Community College data system to better strategize successful educational outcomes for foster youth, strengthen the Community College system’s ability to implement new legislative and policy changes affecting foster youth, and improve collaboration between the Community College system, the K-12 educational system, and the social services system. Ultimately, FYSI helps to develop a supportive and smooth transition for foster youth.

If you are looking for an FYSI in your area, please visit the FYSI Directory.

Fresh Success

Fresh Success helps community colleges and community-based organizations effectively start and manage CalFresh Employment and Training (E&T) programs in partnership with their counties. Through Fresh Success, CalFresh participants gain education and training that will lead to better employment and a path to economic self-sufficiency. This new approach to CalFresh Employment & Training, which connects counties with local colleges and CBOs that have available match funds, allows for increased federal funding and innovative, job-driven approaches. 

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The Umoja Community serves at risk, educationally and economically disadvantaged students, believing that when the voices and histories of students are deliberately and intentionally recognized, students develop self-efficacy and a foundation for academic success. Umoja actively promotes student success for all students, with an emphasis on African American student success, through culturally responsive curriculum and practices. Chancellors and college presidents from across the community colleges act as a consortium to advise the Umoja Governing Board on program implementation and generate ideas for securing additional funding.

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YESS–Independent Living Program

The Youth Empowerment Strategies for Success – Independent Living Program is a cornerstone in the Foundation’s commitment to foster youth, serving current and former foster youth ages 16 – 21. The main objectives of the YESS-ILP project are to assist youth transitioning from the K-12 educational system into higher education, creating a pipeline for youth access to educational and career training opportunities available within the California Community College system. YESS-ILP supports youth in developing the critical life management skills necessary to become successful, thriving adults.

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The Foundation supports training to create a welcoming environment for veterans and their families enrolled at a California Community College. In partnership with the Chancellor’s Office, the Foundation raises awareness of the needs of student veterans and provides professional development for faculty and administrators through the Welcome Home: Veterans on Campus training program. The Veterans Symposium also serves as an annual gathering to share best practices that improve the ways Community Colleges can help smooth veterans’ transition into civilian life.

Partner Programs

California AfterSchool Network 

The California AfterSchool Network (CAN) mission is to provide expanded learning practioners, advocates, and community members with the resources and tools necessary to build high quality expanded learning programs in California. CAN serves as an advocate for effective policies and is a catalyst for expanded learning program quality. CAN believes that expanded learning programs can be a robust place of learning and discovery that supports high achievement for all students.

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California LAW

California Leadership Access Workforce (CA-LAW) works to create the foundational structure that connects, communicates, collaborates, and coordinates the programs that are part of the educational pipeline for diverse students into the legal profession or law-related careers. The mission of CA-LAW is to establish a pipeline of diverse students from high schools, community colleges, four-year institutions, and law schools into law or law-related careers so that the legal profession reflects the diverse population of the State of California. 

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Rising Scholars Network

The California Community Colleges welcome all students, including those who are incarcerated and those who have experienced incarceration in the past. Colleges with programs for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated students proudly form the Rising Scholars Network.

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Former Programs

Healthy Transitions

Healthy Transitions provided curriculum for young adults transitioning out of foster care to empower them to recognize how stress, anxiety, and past traumas impact their daily lives, and how identifying and managing these factors can increase their success in life. Healthy Transitions was funded by the voter-approved Mental Health Services Act (Prop. 63) and was a partnership between the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office and the Foundation for California Community Colleges.

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Civic Impact Project 

The California Community Colleges Civic Impact Project built student interest in civic engagement and expanded existing non-partisan student voter registration efforts. In addition to registering student voters, participating students educated their peers about finding their polling place, ballot measures, absentee voting, and other election process elements. The collaborative project promoted civic skill-building, volunteerism, and career paths among community college students and was made possible through the support of NextGen Climate America, a 501(c)3 organization.

Student Ambassador Program  

The California Community Colleges Student Ambassador Program trained community college students to serve as advocates for health and wellness and career exploration–activities that are linked to increased success in college and career. The program provided the opportunity for students to serve as AmeriCorps volunteers to help other students, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, access support and resources offered by colleges. Student ambassadors received training and completed activities to help their peers in several aspects of their academic career such as assisting them in preparing a resume, gaining work-based learning experiences to improve their employability, or connecting peers with resources that help improve their health and wellness.

Initiative Support

Cooperating Agencies Foster Youth Educational Support (CAFYES) Program

The Foundation for California Community Colleges facilitated support from John Burton Advocates for Youth, The California Wellness Foundation and the Walter S. Johnson foundation to provide seed money towards the public outreach campaign for the California Community College categorical program, Cooperating Agencies Foster Youth Educational Support (CAFYES). This early support funded the research and development of a new name for public use, NextUp, logo, micro web page, several student success video interviews and other outreach materials directed to current and former foster youth.

CAFYES, a component program of Extended Opportunity Programs and Services funded through the State Budget, offers a case-management approach to providing expanded support services to eligible current and former foster youth who are students within California's community college system. Services provided by college CAFYES programs include, but are not limited to, outreach and recruitment; in-person academic, guidance, transfer and personal in-person counseling; frequent, in-person contacts; career guidance; service coordination; independent living and financial literacy skills support; book and supply grants; work study awayds; emergency loans; Unmet Need grants; child care assistance; transportation assistance; meal tickets and/or emergency food support; emergency housing support; health and mental health payments assistance; referrals to health services, mental health services, housing assistance, food assistance and other related services, including, but not limited to, those available through local county agencies.

CAFYES is available at 45 colleges within 20 California Community College districts, provides students who are current and former foster youth to help them achieve their higher education goals and move on to fulfilling careers.

Key Partners


Iris Aguilar
Senior Director, Equity and Community Impact
T: 916.325.1858
E: iaguilar@foundationccc.org

Foundation for California
Community Colleges

1102 Q Street, Suite 4800
Sacramento, CA 95811

Toll Free: 866.325.3222
Fax: 916.325.0844

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Supporting our Work

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Who we serve

The Foundation serves as the official foundation supporting the Board of Governors, Chancellor’s Office, and the entire California Community College system, including 116 colleges and 73 districts, serving 2.1 million students.

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