At risk students at West Hills College get a helping hand with grants

From West Hills College

The West Hills Community College District and West Hills College Coalinga recently received two grants from the United States Department of Education which will help serve students.

West Hills College Coalinga was awarded a five-year grant for its Student Support Services Program (SSS) while the West Hills Community College District earned a five-year grant for its district-wide High School Equivalency Program (HEP). The SSS grant will provide $270,961 annually to the program while the HEP grant will provide $475,000 annually for HEP related services.

The Student Support Services Program at WHCC provides academic and other support services to low-income, first generation or disabled students and aims to increase the graduation and transfer rates of these students through tutoring, peer mentoring, seminars and workshops, career exploration, college visits and advising. The funding will help provide these services to over 200 students per year.

“These grants are so important because, as much as anything, they will help ensure that these high-risk students succeed in college,” said Anita Wright, Director of Grants for the West Hills Community College District. “This is just another way for us to fulfill our goal of the relentless pursuit of student success.”

The SSS Program has been offered at WHCC for over 15 years and, according to WHCC Director of Title IV Programs Raquel Rodriguez, has been a great success.

“This funding is crucial because it will allow us to continue to assist our students in reaching their academic goals and supporting the mission and goals of West Hills College Coalinga,” Rodriguez said.

The High School Equivalency Program is an educational program that serves students from migrant or seasonal farmworker families in the Coalinga, Lemoore and Firebaugh areas. HEP helps students from these families who have dropped out of high school get their High School Equivalency (HSE) credential and serves more than 6,000 students nationwide annually.

The grant will provide up to 100 qualifying students with high quality HSE instruction, books and supplies, college and career advice and financial assistance.

“Just look at where we are,” said Javier Cazares, Coordinator of Special Grants. “California has a large population of migrant and seasonal farmworkers that is generally underserved.  The HEP grant will help provide resources and services intended specifically to assist students from these families.” 

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