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Apply Now: California College Corps Is Offering Students Much More Than $10,000 Stipends

Last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the state’s #CaliforniansForAll College Corps program which has so far provided $10,000 grants to some 6,500 low-income college students as a stipend in exchange for their community service work. Nearly a year after the paid-service program was announced, the governor’s office is praising its impact on communities and the lives of the students who participate in it.

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Josh Fryday serves as California’s Chief Service Officer within the Office of Gov. Gavin Newsom to lead service, volunteer, and civic engagement efforts throughout California. Co-founder and CEO of Project Optimism (projectoptimism.org) Ishmael Pruitt is working directly with two fellows from the College Corps programs in the L.A. Area. Dr. Allison Briscoe-Smith is diversity lead of Student Life at the University of Washington.
Josh Fryday serves as California’s Chief Service Officer within the Office of Gov. Gavin Newsom to lead service, volunteer, and civic engagement efforts throughout California. Co-founder and CEO of Project Optimism (projectoptimism.org) Ishmael Pruitt is working directly with two fellows from the College Corps programs in the L.A. Area. Dr. Allison Briscoe-Smith is diversity lead of Student Life at the University of Washington.

By Edward Henderson
California Black Media

Last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the state’s #CaliforniansForAll College Corps program which has so far provided $10,000 grants to some 6,500 low-income college students as a stipend in exchange for their community service work.

Nearly a year after the paid-service program was announced, the governor’s office is praising its impact on communities and the lives of the students who participate in it.

“The program has proven to be a transformative experience for both students and the organizations where they work,” said Sandy Close, director of Ethnic Media Services, who recently moderated a press briefing to inform the public about the program’s contribution and some of the challenges it has faced.

The event, co-hosted by California Black Media, featured stakeholders representing all aspects of the program talking about their experiences.

“I feel like I’ve gone from being a student who once desperately needed a safe space to learn to being the trusted adult who can provide students with a natural learning environment where they each have a deep sense of belonging, knowing they are seen, heard, supported and valued,” said Emilio Ruiz, a 24-year-old student pursuing his teaching certification.

Ruiz shared his experiences as a College Corps fellow. He said his upbringing as a child of divorced parents — constantly moving, experiencing financial distress and witnessing domestic abuse — spurred his desire for a safe space to learn and grow.

College Corps, Ruiz says, gave him an opportunity to receive his education without the added stress of taking on financial aid debt. Moreover, he gained practical experience while doing service-oriented work in his community.

College Corps is a state initiative that addresses “societal challenges” by creating a generation of civic-minded leaders from low-income families. Its programs focus on challenges facing California like climate resilience and economic inequality.

According to the governor’s office, Black and Latino students have the highest rates of student loan default and owe an estimated $147 billion in college loan debt.

In Long Beach, Project Optimism, currently hosts two College Corps fellows from CSU Long Beach (CSULB). Both are first generation college students. One is undocumented.

According to Ishmael Pruitt, CEO and cofounder, Project Optimism is a nonprofit that supports equitable access to nature and environmental justice education to elementary school-aged children within the Long Beach Unified School District. It focuses on mentorship, empowerment, uniting community engagement (including food insecurity) and personal development.

“We are big on mentoring the mentor,” said Pruitt. “Every intern and employee gets mentored by me, one of the other directors, or someone from our board. So, they get direct coaching and support beyond their role working with us.”

Beth Manke is a program lead at CSULB. She matches College Corps students with the non-profit organizations they are assigned to for the program. Manke currently supervises 50 undergraduate students, completing 450 hours of work for 27 different organizations.

“We envision the service they are completing as internships. These are experiences that have proven to be quite transformative for our students,” said Manke. “We honor and draw on the students’ cultural backgrounds by acknowledging their life experiences and how they shape their academic success and well-being.”

The briefing also focused on the challenges students are facing on college campuses post-pandemic and how College Corps can help alleviate some of those issues.

Dr. Allison Briscoe-Smith, a clinical psychologist and Diversity Lead of Student Life at the University of Washington spoke about some of the mental health challenges students are facing and avenues for healing.

“Anxiety is a leading factor for folks on college campuses,” said Dr. Briscoe-Smith. “There was an escalation for students with mental health challenges pre-pandemic. We are finding we are anticipating beating levels of worsening mental health on campus. Many clinicians are hearing challenges of hopelessness, purposelessness, and isolation. Finding purpose through service is something that can be very helpful. The skills that you’re learning and to be able to see yourself in the folks that you serve is an amazing opportunity for transformation and connection.”

Josh Fryday, California’s Chief Service Officer, introduced the College Corps program a year ago and closed the event with remarks about the hope service can provide.

“When it comes to creating and fostering hope, what we know is that it’s so much more than creating a belief. It’s about action. It’s about a plan. It’s about having a real path for change. That’s what people are looking for. We are seeing the impact in the first nine months. It gives me hope, the governor hope, and we know it’s going to bring hope to our entire state for many years to come.”

Eighty percent of students in the Corps are self-identified students of color and 70% are Pell grant recipients. Five hundred undocumented dreamers throughout the state of California participate in the program.

For more information on College Corps and applying to be a fellow, visit California Volunteers (https://www.californiavolunteers.ca.gov/californiansforall-college-corps-for-college-students/).

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Antonio‌ ‌Ray‌ ‌Harvey‌

Sen. Steve Glazer Vows Redo After Journalism Tax Bill Placed on Hold

Sen. Steve Glazer (D-Contra Costa County) shared his thoughts expressed his views about Senate Bill (SB) 1327 at Capitol Weekly’s “Covering California: The Future of Journalism in the Golden State” conference, which was held in Sacramento on May 30.

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Sen. Steve Glazer (D-Contra Costa) was the keynote speaker at Capitol Weekly's Covering California: The Future of Journalism In the Golden State event held in Sacramento on May 30. CBM photo by Antonio Ray Harvey.
Sen. Steve Glazer (D-Contra Costa) was the keynote speaker at Capitol Weekly's Covering California: The Future of Journalism In the Golden State event held in Sacramento on May 30. CBM photo by Antonio Ray Harvey.

By Antonio‌ ‌Ray‌ ‌Harvey‌, California‌ ‌Black‌ ‌Media

Sen. Steve Glazer (D-Contra Costa County) shared his thoughts expressed his views about Senate Bill (SB) 1327 at Capitol Weekly’s “Covering California: The Future of Journalism in the Golden State” conference, which was held in Sacramento on May 30.

During his keynote speech message at the one-day event, Glazer said admitted he couldn’t get the votes he needed to pass the bill SB 1327 that proposes imposing a “mitigation fee” on major digital technology companies to fund journalism jobs.

Despite the challenges, the Senator vows to keep the Legislation alive.

“We have had setbacks, and we have a lot of work to do to fix this, but I certainly am not giving up,” Glazer said at the event near the State Capitol. Glazer is chairperson of the Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee.

In addition to Glazer’s address, Capitol Weekly organized a probing conference that examined three of the most pressing issues facing California reporters.

Media experts, publishers, communications specialists, and political reporters assembled to discuss the preservation of fair, balanced, and accurate journalism. The need for media outlets to deliver high-quality news coverage that bolsters government, the assessment of new business models; and coverage of the State Capitol dominated the 5-hour event.

“It is nothing short of tragic I would say to see what is happening to the journalism industry,” said Tim Foster, Capitol Weekly’s Executive Director. “I’ve been in and around journalism since 1995 and what we are seeing today with the closing of the journalism industry is unprecedented in my lifetime.”

Glazer spoke for 45 minutes about the future of democracy and the role journalism plays in it. However, the Legislature’s failure to advance SB 1327 and why he pulled the bill was the main subject.

If SB 1327 should reemerge and be passed as law, fees collected would provide $500 million in employment tax credits to news organizations across California. The Senate Appropriations Committee voted to pass the bill with a 4-2 vote on May 16, but Glazer still needed a pathway for two-thirds of the votes required to make it off the Senate floor.

Glazer cited several reasons for why SB 1327 is facing opposition from digital tech giants like Google, Meta, Amazon, and publishers. These include concerns about increased advertising, the perceived threat of government influence, discrimination against larger publishers, a fear that the mitigation fee could trickle down to smaller news outlets as they expand, and nonprofit newsrooms that don’t pay taxes getting a share.

“Opponents will always sell the ghost in the closet,” Glazers said of entities that oppose the bill. “The news business is facing an existential threat, and they are fighting with each other over who will be the last passenger on the Death Star.”

California Legislative Black Caucus (CLBC) vice chair Steven Bradford (D-Inglewood) said on May 16 at the State Capitol that his biggest concern about SB 1327 was whether it would benefit Ethnic Media, including Black media platforms. “They’re usually left and still need more assistance,” Bradford said.

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Newsom Admin Takes Steps to Stabilize California’s Troubled Insurance Market

As growing numbers of Insurance companies announce plans to exit California’s insurance market — or cancel customers’ policies — Gov. Gavin Newsom says his administration is taking steps to reverse the trend. Speaking during a news briefing on May 31, Newsom highlighted the plan, which was unveiled as part of a trailer bill on May 28.

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By California Black Media

As growing numbers of Insurance companies announce plans to exit California’s insurance market — or cancel customers’ policies — Gov. Gavin Newsom says his administration is taking steps to reverse the trend. Speaking during a news briefing on May 31, Newsom highlighted the plan, which was unveiled as part of a trailer bill on May 28.

Newsom said the proposal speeds up approvals for rate increases and addresses rising costs resulting from incidents like wildfires. Newsom said, under his plan, the Department of Insurance will be required to decide and respond to rate increase requests within 120 days. The plan also calls for streamlining the process for filing for increases; builds in two 330-deay extensions for finalizing rate changes; and provides room for insurers to appeal decisions.

“We need to stabilize this market,” Newsom said. “We need to send the right signals.

Proponents, mainly insurance industry representatives like the Personal Insurance Federation of California, are praising the Governor’s actions while consumer advocates warn that the plan is a threat to public intervention rights California’s Prop 103, a 1988 state law adopted to protect state residents from “arbitrary insurance rates and practices.”

Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara thanked Newsom for backing his office’s plan.

“To safeguard the integrity of the insurance market – composed of consumers, homeowners, and business owners – we must fix a system suffering from decades of deferral and delay,” said Lara in a statement. “This measure is one of several parts of a comprehensive plan to enact long-overdue regulatory reforms. The Legislature can do its part to support my reforms by giving this proposal a fair and full consideration, including public input. By enacting this important part of our strategy in statute, the Legislature can help us meet the urgency of the moment.

Lara is working on a longer-term strategy to shore up the insurance market that is expected to be released in December.

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California Black Media

LAO Releases Multi-Year Outlook: Modest Budget Deficits to Persist

The state budget deficit is projected to increase, which will require the Governor and Legislature to make more budget cuts over the next few years, California’s non-partisan Legislature Analyst’s Office (LAO) stated in a report last week. According to the LAO’s multiyear budget report that makes forecasts about the state’s general fund through the 2027-28 fiscal year, the state’s budget problem is $7 billion higher than expected due to lower revenue and spending estimates.

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By California Black Media

The state budget deficit is projected to increase, which will require the Governor and Legislature to make more budget cuts over the next few years, California’s non-partisan Legislature Analyst’s Office (LAO) stated in a report last week.

According to the LAO’s multiyear budget report that makes forecasts about the state’s general fund through the 2027-28 fiscal year, the state’s budget problem is $7 billion higher than expected due to lower revenue and spending estimates.

“Under our office’s revenue and spending projections, and assuming the Governor’s May Revision policies are adopted, the budget problem for this year is $7 billion larger,” the report reads.  “Put another way, the Legislature would need to take $7 billion in additional budget actions to balance the budget.”

This shortfall requires the Governor to reduce government spending by an additional $7 billion to balance the state’s deficit. However, if the legislature does approve the governor’s May Revisions the budget problems will carry over into the 2025-2026 fiscal year, increasing the existing budget deficit by nearly $10 billion.

California’s budget deficit could be as high as $73 billion, requiring the Legislature to consider harsh budget buts that can help the state economy recover long-term. However, the LAO’s spending estimates are lower than that of the state’s Department of Finance.

“The main reason that our estimates of the state’s operating deficits are slightly smaller than the administration’s is that our estimate of General Fund spending is lower than the administration’s estimates,” stated the LAO in the multiyear budget report.

The LAO’s estimates exclude spending on schools and community colleges, and lower estimated expenditures for Health and Human Services (HHS) programs. Based on the LAO’s estimates, Health programs grow annually by an average of 5.1 percent compared to the Newsom Administration’s estimated 8 percent.

“Our office has little insight into the components of, or assumptions underlying, the administration’s projections in HHS. As a result, we cannot identify the precise source of these differences—or the comparative reliability of our respective estimates — with confidence,” the LAO report stated.

Given the projections, the LAO recommends that the Legislature maintain an overall structure similar to the Governor’s May revisions in the final budget package.

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