This post was written by Mary Rauner, Senior Research Associate at the Regional Educational Laboratory West at WestEd.

Pictured in photo: Helen Benjamin, Chancellor of Contra Costa Community College District; Eloy Oakley, Incoming State Chancellor of California Community Colleges; Martha Kanter, Executive Director, College Promise Campaign; Mary Rauner, WestEd

It was a standing-room-only crowd for the College Promise event in Oakland, California last Tuesday, August 30, hosted by the Regional Educational Laboratory West (REL West) at WestEd. College Promise programs address the challenge of college affordability by offering funding for students who live in the program’s geographic area or who attend specified higher education institutions, mainly community colleges.

More than 350 California community college representatives, trustees, and community partners from across the state came together to learn more about the College Promise movement on the local, state, and national level. Fifty seven of the 72 districts across the state were represented at the conference in addition to six members of the California Community College Board of Governors. An impressive 55 college presidents attended, showing their interest in College Promise as an important tool to increase college enrollment.

The one-day event was designed in partnership with the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, the California Community College Leadership Team, the College Promise Campaign, and the Community College League of California.

In addition to remarks from Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, incoming California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley, and national College Promise Campaign Executive Director Martha Kanter, speakers representing existing programs in California, Michigan, Illinois, and Tennessee shared their experiences and offered guidance to those interested in developing or strengthening College Promise programs in their communities.

Presentation topics included financing, evaluation, student support services, community partnerships, measurement, and community outreach. In addition, remarks by the Peralta Community College District Chancellor Jowel Laguerre, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, and Oakland Unified School District Superintendent Antwan Wilson, highlighted the importance of developing a cross-sector leadership team for city-wide engagement around Promise programs.

Eloy Oakley, who will begin his tenure as the State Chancellor for California Community Colleges in December, emphasized the important role that College Promise programs can play in narrowing California’s skills gap and income inequality. “These innovative partnerships lower the cost of college and help students, many of whom are the first in their families to attend college, earn a certificate or degree, and find good paying jobs.”

In preparation for the event, REL West identified 23 College Promise programs in California and compiled a booklet containing background information and details on each program. The booklet offers easily accessible information to those developing, implementing, improving, and evaluating College Promise programs in their community, and aims to encourage a broad community of College Promise learning and support in California.

Read about the day’s proceedings in these EdSource,  Lake County News and Mercury News articles.