College of the Redwoods announced the launching of the Redwoods Room and Board Scholarship Fund at their Board of Trustees meeting on November 6th. The fund was established to help CR students who are homeless or facing housing insecurity. The semester long scholarship will provide housing in the CR residence halls along with a meal plan in CR’s cafeteria. As far as College staff has been able to determine, this pilot program will be the first of its kind in the nation.
Carol Mathews, President of the Board of Trustees for College of the Redwoods, said “all of our trustees believe this is a highly valuable program. We have the opportunity to support students facing the greatest challenges and help them stay in college and finish their education. Not only is this critical for these students‘ futures, the program will positively impact the futures of their families and communities.”
More than fifty percent of the nation’s community college students are facing housing and food insecurity (Wisconsin HOPE Lave and the Association of Community College Trustees). Over one hundred CR students have self-identified this semester as facing housing insecurity and more than 150 students a week are using the main campus’ food pantry.
Keith Snow-Flamer, president and superintendent of CR, said “we have students not only couch surfing, but they are living in their cars or camping in the woods behind our college. They have shown an amazing resiliency to stay in school and earn their education, but we have to realize how vulnerable they are if they can’t find shelter or food. We need to do more.”
This is why the College of the Redwoods Foundation is contributing eight beds for a year in CR’s residence halls, and forgoing $50,000 in potential room revenue to begin the program. The Redwoods Room and Board Scholarship is designed to provide transitional housing for students experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity. Each scholarship award is for one semester and is renewable if needed. The intent of the program is to provide each student the support and life skills to transition to off-campus housing as soon as they are capable.
The recipients of the Redwoods scholarship will have to meet all the guidelines of living in the Residence Halls and maintain a minimum 2.0 grade point average, a full-time course load of at least 12 units, and follow all residence hall and campus policies and rules. These students will be required to work part time either on or off campus to build their resume and contribute $50 a month towards their dorm room in order to build a rental history.
CR’s efforts to impact student housing and food insecurity are part of a larger effort in the community to deal with these critical issues. Board of Trustees member, Danny Kelley said “last year we hosted, along with HSU, the North Coast Homelessness and Housing Insecurity Summit. Then just a couple of weeks ago we worked again with HSU and HCOE to host breakouts on student homelessness for HCOE’s Equity Summit. The Redwoods Scholarship is the next important step we are taking to impact homelessness in Humboldt and Del Norte Counties.”
College of the Redwoods has been taking steps to build an infrastructure of support for their students in need. The College opened a food pantry on the Eureka Main Campus last year and is now planning on food pantries at their sites in Crescent City and Hoopa. The CR farm in Shively has also been providing fresh produce to the college’s pantry. In addition to the food pantry, CR has hired a housing liaison to assist students in finding off campus housing, and has opened their gym showers and washers and dryers to their homeless students.
The College is launching a fundraising campaign to raise the $48,000 necessary to cover the scholarship’s meal expenses for a year. Joe Hash, CR’s Vice President of Student Services, said “this comes to $16 a day to feed a student in the CR cafeteria. During holidays and summertime, this $16 will have to cover meals in Eureka when our cafeteria is closed. So really we aren’t talking about a large amount of money to cover their daily foods costs.”
Marty Coelho, Executive Director of College Advancement and the CR Foundation, said “here we have a group of CR students living in some of the most challenging situations, who have a proven track record of trying to earn their education. We wanted to invest in this group and provide them the support they needed to build a rental history, develop financial and soft job skills, and earn work experience. They have shown a level of commitment to their education, which is pretty remarkable given what they face day to day. Homelessness in Humboldt and Del Norte Counties is overwhelming, but this program provides a way to actually make a difference. This group of students has shown that they are truly deserving of some extra help and we get the satisfaction of being able to take a step to fight homelessness on the North Coast.”
For more information on the Redwoods Room and Board Scholarship Fund, go to: https://www.redwoods.edu/foundation/Room-and-Board-Scholarship.
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