Welcoming A Season of Change and Leading With Bold Action for College Opportunity

Spring is the season of change, and while profound challenges face our nation and the world, including the Russian war on Ukraine, historic fuel costs and inflation, and a continuing global health pandemic, I have been uplifted by the following good news:
  • In March, our higher education systems committed to expanding access and growing enrollment. In a landmark decision, the California State University (CSU) ended the use of the SAT and ACT for eligibility and admission. In addition, the Governor and policymakers worked to protect access for thousands of UC Berkeley students despite a recent court order ruling that would have forced the campus to slash enrollment by 2,600 students.
  • Over 40 California Community Colleges are trailblazing equitable placement practices for their students, including Latinx and Black students. We are proud to recognize the leadership and faculty at these campuses alongside Lt. Governor Kounalakis and Assembly Member Jacqui Irwin on May 12th.
  • The University of California (UC) is making a historic commitment to Native American students, making tuition free for California residents of federally recognized tribes
  • Governor Newsom appointed Judge Patricia Guerrero to the California Supreme Court, the first Latina in this role.
  • And in national news, Judge Ketanji Brown made history as the 116th Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, the first Black woman to ever hold this position.
At the Campaign for College Opportunity, we celebrate the historic nature and progress that this news represents. And yet we know there is still much more we can do to advance college opportunity and truly practice equity in California higher education that puts students first in every policy and practice decision that we make.
In this newsletter, learn how college and state leaders can leverage the Associate Degree for Transfer to meet the growing demands of California’s health workforce, how you can join in the effort to fix financial aid once and for all, the urgency of Governor Newsom’s proposed 70% college attainment goal, how to support Black student success, and more.
We thank you for your partnership in continuing to expand college opportunity for California’s diverse students.
Michele Siqueiros


Research Updates
Critical Condition: Prescriptions for Improving Transfer Pathways in the Health Professions
This month, we were proud to release “Critical Condition: Prescriptions for Improving Pathways in the Health Professions.” This new report examines the urgent need for more healthcare professionals to meet workforce demand and lays out prescriptions for progress by improving the racial and ethnic diversity of the workforce by strengthening transfer.
“We want to give our students the best education in the CSU. We have excellent degrees, but it is important for us to continue to identify and remove barriers and complexities that make it difficult for students to navigate their way to graduation,” said a campus leader at Cal State LA.
Our colleges and universities can and must provide equitable access to training in the health professions by improving and simplifying pathways to health degrees for low-income students and students from minoritized backgrounds. If California’s healthcare system is to deliver better care for its diverse population, our state’s public institutions are a vital part of building and fortifying this workforce.


Policy Updates
Cal Grant Equity Framework
The Cal Grant Equity Framework is California’s greatest lever to expand college access and success while closing racial/ethnic equity gaps. The Framework tackles barriers to state financial aid by simplifying the process and increasing awards to 150,000 more students, propelling California forward through an equitable pandemic recovery.
This legislation is so crucial to addressing racial and gender equity that the California Latino Legislative Caucus has made it a legislative priority for 2022.
“Our mission is to put these inequities front and center and to fight for policies that will create better outcomes for all Californians,” said Senator Durazo.
Join us in our effort to fix financial aid once and for all and urge state leaders to adopt the Cal Grant Equity Framework into the State Budget.


Honoring Community Colleges Excelling in Equitable Course Placement
On April 22, we were proud to announce our inaugural Excellence in Placement Honorees during our first Instagram Live event. Over 40 California Community Colleges were recognized for championing student success by implementing equitable course placement practices that give community college students the opportunity to take college-level courses with the support they need to pass them as outlined in landmark legislation, AB 705. Together, our honoree campuses are transforming the college experience for California students, particularly thousands of Black and Latinx students now well on their way to a college degree.


In Case You Missed It
Take a Lunch Break with Christopher Cabaldon
On April 18, Christopher Cabaldon, Mayor in Residence, joined the Campaign for a Lunch Break. Christopher is a nationally known leader with a track record of applying futures thinking to complex higher education systems. Previously serving as vice chancellor of the California Community Colleges and director of the state legislature’s higher education committee, Christopher talked about educational equity and the Governor’s ambitious effort to set a college attainment goal for California. “A 70% college attainment goal is ambitious, unprecedented, and doable,” said Christopher.


Take a Lunch Break with Marlene Garcia
Last month, we were joined by Marlene Garcia, Executive Director of the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC). As a first-generation Latina college graduate, Marlene understands the power higher education has to transform the lives of women and women of color. During our Lunch Break, Marlene talked about how the cost of college is posing real barriers for students from low-income families to pursue a degree.
“There are so many brilliant people who come from zip codes that just don’t offer opportunities. It’s just not fair because it doesn’t mean that there’s a lack of talent, it means that there’s a lack of opportunity,” said Marlene. Tune in to hear some of the solutions Marlene proposes to strengthen financial aid in California through the Cal Grant Equity Framework.


Black Student Success Week
Black Student Success Week is back! The 2022 Black Student Success Week is underway, focusing on strategies to ensure Black and African American students succeed at California Community Colleges as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The week kicked off with remarks from U.S. Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel Cardona.
“This week presents an opportunity for us to discuss how we address the inequities that have existed in our education systems for far too long and create sustainable solutions to keep our students in the classroom and ensure they graduate,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona.

Black Student Success Week will be held virtually with daily webinars starting at 12:00 pm, April 25-29. Sign up for a webinar here!


Our Team is Growing!
We are proud to announce exciting new additions to our team: Administrative Associate Kristen Williams, Senior Communications Manager Rick Angel, Policy and Program Associate Savannah Mendoza, and Accountant Edwin Guizar. We are also pleased to announce our 2022 Steve Weiner and David Wolf Founder Fellows, individuals who will have the opportunity to learn what it means to advocate on behalf of California students and build the critical skills and tools necessary to compel change.
Please join us in welcoming everyone!


A Special Thank You
We are grateful for recent financial support from: the Lumina Foundation and Stuart Foundation. We would also like to thank the Evelyn & Walter Haas Jr. Fund, Margaret M. Bloomfield Foundation, and our sponsors ECMC Foundation and Quinn Delaney. Your generosity enables our work of making college dreams a reality for more California students.

Welcoming 2022: Leading With Bold Action for College Opportunity

2021 was a year where we all continued to face challenges head on. As the pandemic continued to leave its mark across California and higher education, we charged forward with bold action to support all California students, regardless of their race/ethnicity, income, or zip code, toward their college dreams.
In 2021, we proudly worked to make California higher education stronger and to close racial and ethnic equity gaps by:
• Supporting historic transfer reform with AB 928 and AB 1111 (Berman), building on the landmark Associate Degree for Transfer pathway by removing barriers in transfer so that students have a streamlined pathway to a bachelor’s degree.
• Hosting discussions with student, higher education, legislative, community, and civil rights leaders from all corners of California public higher education with an explicit focus on action. For our first in-person gathering after over two years of virtual events, we convened President Drake of the University of California (UC), Chancellor Castro of the California State University (CSU), and Acting Chancellor Gonzales of the California Community Colleges to discuss their vision for expanding access and achieving equity in their own systems and in partnership. And, more recently, in a conversation on increasing capacity at the CSU and UC, CSU Chancellor Castro announced the CSU’s groundbreaking commitment to eliminate standardized testing in admissions.
• Releasing eight influential publications with actionable recommendations, elevating the voices of formerly/currently incarcerated students, documenting the need to improve and strengthen the community college to university transfer path, examining the return on investment of a college degree, as well as updating our signature State of Higher Education for Black Californians and Latinx Californians reports.
We welcome 2022 with great hope, especially after Governor Newsom announced his proposed budget with historic investments in higher education and an explicit plan to expand access to the UC and CSU, improve transfer and completion rates, and close racial/ethnic equity gaps. We invite you to learn about this year’s ambitious state budget proposal, our upcoming publications and events, career opportunities, and more.
Together, we can build a brighter California that invests in students and ensures a strong future for all of us. From my team to yours, we wish you a happy and healthy New Year!
Michele Siqueiros
To learn more about what we accomplished in 2021, click here.


Research Updates
The State of Higher Education for Latinx and Black Angelenos
Join us on February 11th at 10 AM for the release of our upcoming report, The State of Higher Education for Latinx and Black Angelenos. With over a third of California’s Latinx and Black populations living in Los Angeles County, ensuring college access and success for Angelenos is critical to the well-being of our state. We’ll be joined by leaders of the Los Angeles Unified School District, the Los Angeles Community College District, and more.


In Case You Missed It
Shut Out: The Need to Increase Access to the UC and CSU
In December 2021, we released Shut Out: The Need to Increase Access to the UC and CSU, exploring the need and opportunities to increase higher education capacity at the UC and CSU. CSU Chancellor Joseph I. Castro, UC Regent Chair Cecilia Estolano, Assemblymember Kevin McCarty, Chief Deputy Cabinet Secretary for Governor Newsom Ben Chida, MALDEF President/General Counsel Thomas A. Saenz, and College Match LA Executive Director Erica Rosales joined us to discuss the urgency of expanding access to our state universities. You can watch the event recording above.


2021 Legislative Dean’s List Reception
In January, we had the privilege of honoring seven courageous legislative leaders, recognizing their work in the 2021 legislative cycle to support the college dreams of more California students while closing racial equity gaps. View the recording through the video above or the event highlights below.


Take a Lunch Break with Ben Chida
On January 27th, we hosted a Lunch Break with Ben Chida, Chief Deputy Cabinet Secretary for the Office of Governor Gavin Newsom. View the recording above to learn about his college journey, higher education priorities, and details on the 2022-23 state budget proposal for higher education.


Policy Updates
Governor Gavin Newsom proposed a $39.6 billion investment for higher education in his 2022 budget proposal. We are pleased to share that this ambitious framework reflects many of our long-standing priorities, including:
• Increasing in-state student enrollment in our universities
• Improving time to completion and graduation rates
• Strengthening the transfer pathway
• Closing racial equity gaps
• Reducing total cost of attendance
• Encouraging greater intersegmental coordination


Career Opportunities
We are currently seeking an Administrative Associate and a Program Manager of Student Success Initiatives to join our team of higher education leaders. Follow us on LinkedIn to receive updates on upcoming job opportunities at the Campaign.


Leadership News from Our Team
The Campaign is proud to consist of staff that are genuine advocates for students and are accomplishing milestones as California leaders.
• Michele Siqueiros, President – Named a Distinguished Champion by UCLA’s Academic Advancement Program; is a current Pahara-Aspen Fellow; and Trustee for her Alma Mater, Pitzer College
• Jessie Ryan, Executive Vice President – Celebrated 16 years with the Campaign, influencing $1.5B in 2021 higher education investments and shepherding historic legislation
• Audrey Dow, Senior Vice President – Joined the Board of Excelencia in Education
• Sara Arce, Vice President of Policy and Advocacy – Joined the Advisory Board for the Cradle-to-Career Data System
• Vikash Reddy, Ph.D., Senior Director of Policy Research – Recognized as a 2022 Emerging Scholar by Diverse Issues in Higher Education
• Joshua Hagen, Policy Director – Selected for a leadership training program with the Rockwood Leadership Institute
• Sasha Renée Pérez, Director of Public Affairs – Selected as a Commissioner for California 100
• Katrina Linden, Senior Legislative Affairs Manager – Selected as a Fellow for the New Leaders Council Sacramento


Remembering Gary K. Hart
We mourn the loss of Gary K. Hart, a champion for education who served on our Board for many years, guiding us as we first opened our doors in Sacramento. We will continue making college dreams a reality for all California students in honor of his legacy. We encourage you to learn about his impact in a tribute written by Executive Vice President Jessie Ryan.


A Special Thank You
We are grateful for generous and new support from Ascendium Education Solutions, Inc. and the Yellow Chair Foundation, whose generosity enables us to continue making the college dreams of California students a reality.

New Research: Chutes or Ladders? Strengthening California Community College Transfer So More Students Earn the Degrees They Seek

Report Cover Chutes or Ladders
Today, the Campaign for College Opportunity released “Chutes or Ladders: Strengthening California Community College Transfer So More Students Earn the Degrees They Seek.” Join us today at 1pm for a webinar on this report (details below).

Like Chutes and Ladders game players, California community college students who want to transfer and earn a bachelor’s degree are trying to make progress, but one bad roll of the dice can set them back several turns.

The result is that less than 3% of California community college students transfer in two years, 23% in four years, and 40% in six years. Even after six years, 60% do not transfer at all. For those students who reach transfer on the gameboard, less than half will earn their bachelor’s degree at the CSU and less than two-thirds will earn their bachelor’s degree at the UC in two years.

“Chutes or Ladders” demonstrates how improving transfer for community college students is central to remedying racial inequity in higher education and offers recommendations for removing remaining obstacles for students in the transfer process and for strengthening the ADT pathway. Read more

Governor Newsom Makes Additional $12 Billion Commitment to Higher Education, Calls for 70% of California Adults to Have a College Credential

Gov. Newsom
The new budget reflects a historic commitment to affordability via student housing and reinvests significantly in the California Community Colleges, California State University and University of California system

Governor Gavin Newsom proposed a once-in-a-generation $12 billion increase for higher education over his January proposal, with sweeping one-time and ongoing investments in college affordability, strengthening college pathways, improving time to degree and graduation, while also addressing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on students. The investments are focused on helping students that stand to benefit the most from higher education while closing persistent racial equity gaps that have only become worse during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Governor’s May budget proposal is in stark contrast to the budget outlook in January.

The total higher education budget proposed in the Governor’s May Revise stands at $48 billion, up from $36 billion in January. The largest and most significant investment is a one-time $4 billion allocation to establish a low-cost student housing grant program to expand affordable student housing options, tackling head-on the housing crisis amongst California students, a major barrier to college affordability. The Governor also proposes making financial aid for summer courses a permanent offering at the University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU), while maintaining his commitment to the current Cal Grant program. Read more

In Loving Memory: David B. Wolf

It is with a truly heavy heart that I share the news that the Campaign for College Opportunity’s co-founder, David Wolf, passed away on April 9, 2021.

After an amazing career in higher education, David Wolf joined Steve Weiner on a road trip across California in retirement. They spoke to experts, did research, raised money, and convinced iconic civil rights leader Antonia Hernandez, legendary business leader Bill Hauck, and prominent community college champion David Viar to co-found the Campaign for College Opportunity in 2004.

David and Steve then launched a rigorous search for a leader. I was less than six years out of grad school and I saw this job announcement – a leader who could ensure California would protect the promise of college opportunity. I read that job announcement and found my purpose. Sheryl Sandberg might have called it leaning in. I’d never run an organization or raised money, but I really wanted to do this work and had ideas for why I was a good fit. I sent my cover letter and resume and got my first-round interview. It was scheduled at the Wolf home, which had a beautiful pathway to the front door with big bay windows. Behind these windows, David and Steve positioned themselves so they could see you and judge your prospects before you even got a handshake in. Read more

Continuing our Racial Equity Work in 2021

We enter Spring celebrating the recent news that almost half of California’s eligible population has received a vaccine to protect against Covid-19. We are cautiously optimistic and hopeful that students will be able to return to class and that we will be able to hug our loved ones. We also celebrate the appointment of former California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to lead the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the first Latino to hold this position. Watching our homegrown leaders who actively supported the work of the Campaign for College Opportunity over the years, including Secretary Becerra, Vice President Kamala Harris, and Senator Alex Padilla, move into national leadership roles makes us enormously proud.

As we celebrate good news, we are also disheartened by the more insidious and active virus of racism and racial injustice across our nation. This is especially true as we watch the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin for killing George Floyd, the protests near Minneapolis for the death of Daunte Wright at the hands of the police, the brutal murder of Asian Americans in Atlanta, and the senseless attacks against members of our Asian American community in our own state.

Our anti-racist and racial equity-focused work must continue and must be inclusive of Asian Americans. Specifically, the Campaign for College Opportunity will continue to call for racial justice in higher education for Asian American students, which includes advocating for data disaggregated by race/ethnicity and dispelling the model minority myth that hinders many Asian students from receiving the targeted support they need to succeed and often is used to pit minoritized communities against each other. Later this year, we will be releasing our updated State of Higher Education for Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Californians report, which will include both policy and campus-level recommendations to better serve all Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander students. In the meantime, you can click here, here, and here to find resources to combat anti-Asian racism. I encourage you to review these resources. Read more

Transforming Transfer with AB 928 (Berman): The Student Transfer Achievement Reform Act of 2021

Today, we are proud to announce our sponsorship of priority transfer legislation, AB 928, authored by Assemblymember Marc Berman.

AB 928 will strengthen and transform transfer in California so that more California Community College students can reach their goal of earning a bachelor’s degree by simplifying the path to transfer for students and building on the framework of the Associate Degree for Transfer (ADT).

AB 928 would:
– Establish an intersegmental implementation committee to hold campuses accountable and enable a statewide focus on simplifying transfer. The creation of an intersegmental implementation committee is vital to ensuring coordination among institutions.
– Consolidate the two existing general education pathways into one that meets admission requirements at both the CSU and UC.
– Automate the placement of all community college students onto an ADT pathway intended for their major. In doing so, a student will be placed directly onto the pathway that will maximize their probability of entering and completing a four-year university degree in their chosen field of study in a timely manner, while minimizing the accrual of excess units. Read more

The State of Higher Education for Black Californians

In January, we honored Secretary Weber for her dedication to increasing racial equity in higher education at our Dean’s List Reception.

To commemorate Black History Month, on February 23rd, the Campaign for College Opportunity is releasing The State of Higher Education for Black Californians. In this report, we provide comprehensive data on the current state of college preparation, access and success for Black residents in our state.

For a presentation on the report’s key findings and discussion on the opportunities for our state and college leaders to ensure more Black students are supported in ways that ensure they reach their college dreams, register for our webinar on February 23rd at 10:30 a.m. PST. Read more

The Possibility Report: From Prison to College Degrees

Last year, as protests across the nation challenged state violence against Black people in America, leaders across California affirmed and reaffirmed their commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion. We hope to see those same leaders assess and expand those commitments to ensure they include an often-overlooked population: currently and formerly incarcerated students.

The Campaign for College Opportunity partnered with Danny Murillo, a formerly incarcerated scholar who has made it his life’s mission to ensure incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people have the opportunity to go to college and change their lives, to produce our latest research brief, The Possibility Report: From Prison to College Degrees in California.

The Possibility Report uplifts the voices of formerly incarcerated students from California’s public colleges and universities, who candidly and vulnerably share the challenges they faced transitioning from incarceration to a college campus. In listening to their stories, common barriers and recommendations for change emerged. Read more

2021 Challenges Require our Continued Effort

2020 brought many challenges, and not enough can be said about the tremendous loss that has been felt across the country and the world.

With heavy hearts, we soldiered on, as the pandemic laid bare the need to protect our state’s most vulnerable students and ensure they had the resources and support needed to get to college and continue their education. The need for the Campaign to safeguard college opportunity in our state remains.

In early March 2020, we partnered with leading student advocates from across the state to host a virtual press conference, outlining recommendations for urgent action in the areas of learning, basic needs, admissions, graduation, supporting student workers, and supporting undocumented students during the pandemic. That critical conversation inspired us to kick off a virtual speaker series with key leaders in California and in higher education, including Read more