Allan Hancock College received the Equity Award for the Pacific Region from the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT). The Pacific Region spans the western United States and includes nine states, as well as British Columbia, American Samoa and Guam. Hancock is the only community college in California to receive a regional award from ACCT this year.
“To have our work and effort be recognized by our peers and colleagues is a tremendous honor,” said Allan Hancock College Superintendent/President Kevin G. Walthers, Ph.D. “The true credit belongs with our board of trustees, faculty, staff and administrators. They are dedicated to changing the odds for our community and ensuring everyone has an opportunity to succeed.”
As a designated Hispanic Serving Institution, Hancock has a history of serving a community of first-generation students by developing successful and innovative programs for underserved populations. The college’s Student Equity Plan seeks to increase access and success for underrepresented students, specifically foster youth, veterans and economically-disadvantaged students.
Three programs, two built entirely with community support, epitomize the college’s efforts to change the odds for students in the community.
Food Share… Because We Care started in November 2015 and has grown thanks to support from the Allan Hancock College Foundation, Home Motors Chevrolet and Rabobank. In partnership with the local food bank, the college distributes fresh produce and food at no charge to students twice a month at three college locations. During the 2016-17 academic year, more than 170,000 pounds of food were distributed to about 3,000 students, including 725 single-parent students and 22 homeless students.
Hancock’s growing student-veteran population reflects the trend throughout Northern Santa Barbara County. The number of student-veterans registered for classes at Hancock surpassed 250 for the first time last year. The college opened a Veteran Success Center in 2015 to assist veterans and their families during their transition to college. The community helped take the college’s commitment one step further by establishing the Veterans Emergency Loan Program. Funded by Rotary Clubs throughout northern Santa Barbara county, the program helps student-veterans in their times of need by bridging the gap between semesters when they are not eligible for GI Bill Support and may need help with rent, bills or purchase of books. To date, the program has loaned funds to 40 veterans with a 100 percent repayment rate.
Hancock established the Cooperating Agencies Foster Youth Educational Support (CAFYES) program to equip foster youth students with as many tools possible to succeed in college. In conjunction with Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOPS), CAFYES provides academic counseling, peer mentoring, tutoring, book vouchers and other services to support current and former foster youth. The college also publically reinforced its commitment to equity earlier this year when the Allan Hancock College Board of Trustees unanimously passed a resolution supporting diversity and unity on campus. The resolution was fully supported by the Associated Student Body Government (ASBG) and Academic Senate.
“We are pleased with the progress we have made, but our efforts to focus on student equity at Allan Hancock College are just beginning,” said Nohemy Ornelas, associate superintendent/vice president, Student Services. “The college will not be satisfied until we eliminate all achievement and persistence gaps.”
The ACCT is a non-profit educational organization that represents more than 6,500 elected and appointed trustees who govern 1,200 community, technical and junior colleges in the United States and Canada. The association annually recognizes exemplary members by issuing five awards in each region. Awards are issued for trustee leadership, equity, chief executive officer, faculty member, and professional board staff member.
Regional awardees are eligible for the ACCT’s national awards, known as the Association Awards. One regional awardee in each of the five categories will receive an ACCT Association Award. Regional and Association awards will be presented during the ACCT Leadership Congress in late September.
Applicants for the Equity Award were required to show evidence of leadership in setting policies that promoted and enhanced opportunities for institutional diversity, inclusion, and equity for women, persons of color, LGBTQs, or members of any other underrepresented or underserved population. Colleges needed to explain how their efforts resulted in increases in access and completion rates among underrepresented and underserved populations.