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SBCC’s Transitions Program Earns Statewide Diversity and Equity Award

College receives the John W. Rice honor for the second year in a row

The California Community Colleges Board of Governors named Santa Barbara City College’s Transitions Program as a recipient of the 2012 John W. Rice Diversity and Equity Award.

Offered by SBCC’s EOPS (Extended Opportunity Programs and Services) Department, Transitions is a special six-week summer program for individuals released or paroled from the California criminal justice system. The goal is to create a smooth transition from prison to the community college and to assist these individuals with re-integration into society by beginning or continuing their educational objectives.

The curriculum included regular and specially tailored college courses, peer advising and mentoring, tutoring and weekly field trips.

According to EOPS director Marsha Wright, Transitions is one of the few programs of its kind in the country and is now in its fourth year of operation. Students are recruited from appropriate criminal justice agencies, and about 90 have completed the program. The persistence rate is approximately 82 percent.

In additional to the regular curriculum, students are involved in community outreach. Some serve on the Santa Barbara County’s Daily Reporting Center, while others speak to youth on probation or within juvenile institutions. In 2011, the Transitions program was invited to present to the South Coast Task Force on Youth Gangs.

“This population is one often ignored by academic and community institutions,” Wright said. “Transitions helps gives these individuals the tools and motivation to successfully go to the next stage in their lives and also has opened candid dialogue within the campus and the community about the academic, social and economic needs of this group.”

SBCC President Lori Gaskin, Ph.D., said, “Transitions is most deserving of this prestigious statewide award for community colleges. The EOPS staff is committed to promoting opportunities for this often unsupported population and providing the educational experiences and support services for all to maximize their potential.”

This is the second year in a row that SBCC has won the John W. Rice Diversity and Equity Award. In 2011, Ignacio Ponce, faculty member in SBCC’s American Sign Language Program and SBCC’s Veterans Support Program, coordinated by Magdalena Torres, were named recipients.

The John W. Rice Diversity and Equity Award was established in 2001 to honor a community college employee, district, college or program that has made the greatest contribution towards faculty and staff diversity or student equity. The award is named in honor of Rice, a former California Community Colleges Board of Governors member who served on the board from 1992-2000 and was a leader, innovator and spokesman for equal employment opportunity and nondiscrimination in the California community colleges.

This award is named in his behalf as a testament to his strong commitment to faculty and staff diversity, student equity, and his strong support for a multicultural learning experience for all students. His daughter, Condoleezza Rice, was the former U.S. national security adviser and secretary of state under the administration of President George W. Bush.

— Joan Galvan is a public information officer for SBCC.

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