El Centro - Gavilan College’s one-stop, whole student support centerby Jan Janes on Nov 24, 2021
Located in the expanded area served by the Food Pantry and former Career Transfer Center, El Centro will offer centralized, student support services.
“We want El Centro to be the go-to place,” said Annette Gutierrez, Gavilan College Director of Basic Needs & Success. “A centralized, integral place people feel confident going. Referred students will be served with sensitivity, care and compassion.”
Funded by the current Title V grant, the program will expand student services to support key objectives:
- Increase the number of students completing FAFSA or Dream Act applications
- Increase first-time student persistence and retention
- Increase student degree, certificate or transfer rate
Work in Fall 2021 offered financial literacy workshops, food and clothing distribution and community-building cultural celebrations.
Financial literacy series of four workshops offered student information about basic budgeting, applying for financial aid and how to manage money. The plan moving forward is to expand financial advising services and include on-campus and off-campus/community support.
Using a model developed at San Jose City College, El Centro plans to develop Money Mentors, peer coaching by students who complete a personal finance class, receive training about FAFSA and Dream Act and off-campus services.
“The program would provide peer to peer support similar to the Peer Mentors in the Welcome Center,” said Gutierrez. “But not every student uses the Welcome Center.” The goal is to create awareness about available financial aid resources, increase student completion of those applications, and also show how the money can be used.
El Centro will show students the package of services they are eligible for and offer assistance to apply. Plans are to partner with the Welcome Center, ASGC and Financial Aid to inform the campus community about scholarships, offering workshops for students in advance of deadline dates.
With the shift to distance education the past 18 months, students are now familiar with Canvas, the Gavilan College platform that delivers online instruction.
“We know students aren’t checking their Gav email,” said Gutierrez. By centralizing concise communications inside an El Centro ‘course’ and enrolling every Gavilan student, the program now shares information quickly.
“How do we embed El Centro into the student journey? We have to meet students where they’re at,” she said. “We need to be flexible and versatile with what we are communicating, and how often.”
Students attend Gavilan College for many reasons: to learn English, get back into the workforce, learn new skills, earn certificates and degrees, and to transfer.
El Centro will utilize a new campus-wide platform, Starfish, and shift from a manual to a digital, integrated approach. “This is case management, and intentionally scaling up the work that Gavilan’s special programs have been doing for many years,” said Gutierrez. “When a student walks in, we want them to be served on the spot and get their answers.”
As the program works toward its main objectives, plans are to expand partnerships with community agencies and partners. Community members can also help by contributing to the Basic Needs and Food Pantry budgets through the Gavilan College Education Foundation.
Learn about all the El Centro services available.
For more information, email Annette Gutierrez or call 408.848.4813 about partnering with El Centro.