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Friday, October 15, 2021

Woodland Promise Program increases educational access for local high school graduates

One component of the program will cover up to two years of all community college educational fees

On May 10, the City of Woodland and Woodland Community College (WCC) announced the Woodland Promise Program, which is set to launch in the fall of 2021. 

City of Woodland City Councilmember Vicky Fernandez described the program as a collaborative effort between WCC and the city of Woodland with two distinct components. 

“Woodland Promise is a new type of local partnership between the city and the community college district,” Fernandez said via email. “This program actually has two parts: a fee-waiver program called Woodland College Promise and a scholarship program called the Woodland Stars Scholarship.” 

    The Woodland College Program will cover up to two years of college fees for eligible students, and the Woodland Stars Scholarship will offer up to $1000 for students, based on a combination of factors including civic engagement, academic achievement and time spent in internships related to their studies. 

Fernandez thanked voters for approving this opportunity to invest in educational access and emphasized the importance of diversity as a guiding principle in making decisions at the city level.  

“Woodland is proud of its diversity, and the City Council and City Staff want to lead and make decisions with equity and inclusion in mind,” Fernandez said via email. “We’re thankful that voters approved Measure J and gave the City the resources to invest directly in our young people.” 

    While the full impact of the program has yet to be assessed, local officials and the community college district are hopeful that they will extend the program, according to Fernandez.  

    “Locally, the City is committed to funding Woodland Promise for two years and then reexamining the data and outcomes to assess if we should continue our support,” Fernandez said via email. “The community college district, WCC, City Council, and City Staff all hope to continue the program beyond the initial two years.” 

Fernandez sees the Promise Program as an indication of Woodland’s continued commitment to investing in and supporting its local youth. 

“The Woodland Promise Program demonstrates our commitment to Woodland’s youth,” Fernandez said via email. “It also encourages our youth to get involved in our community. I believe it’s a valuable investment in our city’s future leaders.” 

Woodland Community College President and Yuba Community College District Interim Chancellor Art Pimentel explained that while the Promise Program has been implemented in other communities, Woodland’s College Promise is unique in its comprehensive approach to educational access.  

“This is a unique program because it covers the first two years of enrollment costs for a student that is a recent high school graduate, and it covers 100% of fees like those for student representation, health care, even parking,” Pimentel said. “Most cities don’t cover those fees or offer the $1000 scholarship.” 

    Pimentel said that the program will not only enrich the individual lives of its participants, but also the community as a whole. 

“This is part of a comprehensive strategy where access to higher education also delivers educated students to our communities and local businesses,” Pimentel said. “The more educated individuals we have within our communities, the higher the quality of living for our residents.” 

Pimentel hopes that in the future, the Woodland Promise Program would serve as a model for similar programs in neighboring communities. 

“It would be ideal to have other cities within the district to develop a summary framework and embrace this concept,” Pimentel said. “We did a presentation to the Clear Lake City Council, and they are planning to develop a similar program.” 

Right now, the program is focused on promotion and enrollment, according to Pimentel. 

“We’re doing several press releases and working closely with school districts,” Pimentel said. “We just want to promote this very unique program. Enrollment is open.” 

More information about the program and eligibility can be found on the Woodland Community College website

Written by: Yan Yan Hustis Hayes — city@theaggie.org

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