WHITTIER – Rio Hondo College students will soon have the opportunity to earn $10,000 toward their college education by participating in the recently launched Californians For All College Corps.

Río Hondo College is one of 45 institutions selected for the program, which provides students with financial support if they participate in community service opportunities such as climate action, K-12 education, COVID-19 recovery and food distribution.

Californians For All College Corps was created to alleviate the rising student debt challenges faced by California students, which is estimated at $147 billion according to EdSource. The program was announced Jan. 18 by California Chief Service Officer and the head of California Volunteers Josh Fryday, California Governor Gavin Newsom and the leaders of California’s college and university systems.

“Today is a historic day in California,” Fryday said during the announcement. “The Governor, alongside the leaders of the world’s top higher education systems, offered a monumental proposal to the next generation of Californians – if you step up to serve your community, we’ll help you pay for college.”

Up to 50 Río Hondo College students will be selected for the program each year, with AB540 Dreamer students also eligible for participation. Californians For All College Corps will provide up to 6,500 California college students with a stipend of up to $10,000 a year if they complete 450 hours of community service during each one-year cohort.

Río Hondo College joined the partnership thanks to the efforts of Board of Trustees Member Oscar Valladares and his contacts at California State University, Los Angeles, which is part of the East Los Angeles and San Gabriel Valley Consortium for the Californians For All program.

The first cohort will run from Aug. 2022 to July 2023 and the second from Aug. 2023 to June 2024.

Río Hondo College will focus its volunteerism in the areas of food justice and education through some of its existing programs such as Río Hondo Basic Needs Center, CalFresh Application Assistance and the LA Food Bank.

“Río Hondo College is thrilled to bring this opportunity to our students – it truly is a remarkable gift,” Superintendent/President Teresa Dreyfuss said. “Thanks to the Californians For All program, our students will have an opportunity to gain meaningful field experience while also earning income to support their needs. The College believes in the benefit to our students, the institution, and most importantly, the community when students are provided opportunities to work and engage in civic impact.”