SoCal CAN is an avid proponent of cross-organizational and cross-sector collaboration. The network has facilitated the creation of several programs that leverage the expertise of our members to widen the universe of support for more students.
Supporting the college aspirations of residents in public housing
Project SOAR is an initiative to help students in public housing pursue their college and career dreams. In partnership with U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Project SOAR was launched by the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles and SoCal CAN in 2017. Since then, college counselors have been placed on housing sites to provide one-on-one advising to residents. Students receive assistance in completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), applying for scholarships, submitting college applications, selecting the right school, and making a smooth transition into college, among other supports. View an EdSource article about our efforts! Three SoCal CAN member organizations have played an instrumental role in lending their expertise to this project: College Access Plan provides the curriculum implemented by the Education Program Specialists on site, UNITE-LA’s LA Cash for College helps students and families complete the FAFSA, and Families in Schools has trained the Project SOAR team on how to engage parents and caring adults in the college-planning process.
Federal funding for this work has come to an end, but fortunately Project SOAR has continued with funding from private foundations. Project SOAR is currently operating at five sites in East and South Los Angeles: Ramona Gardens, William Mead Homes, Nickerson Gardens, Avalon Gardens and Gonzaque Village.
Fostering Student-Led Advocacy in Higher-Ed
SoCal CAN Changemakers is a one-year fellowship program for college students. The goal of the program is to empower students with the knowledge and skills they need to be effective advocates for change on their college campus. Several SoCal CAN members have played an important role in helping shape the Changemakers training: Community Coalition, InnerCity Struggle, Campaign for College Opportunity, Ed Trust-West and Kid City Hope Place. View our AY2019-2020 cohort of Changemakers!
Advancing College Success
When SoCal CAN was founded 15 years ago, college persistence was the number one topic of discussion. At that time, organizations felt confident about their ability to get students into college, but less confident about their ability to support them through college. In 2009, ten members came together to design a SoCal CAN program that would support low-income, first-gen students through their first year of college. Tapping the power of student-to-student connections, Level Up pairs first-year students with upperclassmen who served as campus ambassadors. The ambassadors facilitate a series of activities throughout the year with first-years that equip them with the knowledge, connections and skills to be successful in college. The program has been extremely successful, serving more than 2500 students who are persisting through college at rates between 89 – 91% during any given year. Network members have also benefitted from the learnings that emerged from Level Up, as they’ve developed their own college success programs. With the onset of the pandemic, SoCal CAN decided to pause Level Up, as it’s highly reliant on in-person interaction. Stay tuned for an update on our plans for AY2021-2022!
Engaging College Access Professionals in Policy Advocacy
The SoCal CAN Member Advocacy Fellowship empowers college access organizations with the
knowledge and skills needed to actively contribute to education policy making. During AY 2019-2020, the fellowship brought together 24 college access professionals from 12 organizations to explore critical issues impacting educational equity in California.