MBEP Builds Student Service-Learning
Opportunities Around Climate Change

The Californians For All College Corps program, announced by Gov. Gavin Newsom last month, will create debt-free pathways to college while engaging college students in service-learning opportunities. In exchange for service hours, 6,500 college students who complete a year of service in such critical issue areas as climate action, K-12 education, and COVID-19 recovery will receive $10,000 while gaining valuable leadership and civic engagement skills.

One of the program’s goals is to support the work of community-based organizations focused on key local priorities, and MBEP is among the community partners whose work around climate change will create service opportunities for students from UC Santa CruzCSU Monterey BayHartnell CollegeMonterey Peninsula CollegeCabrillo CollegeGavilan College and Middlebury Institute for International Studies

A $5.9 million California for All Fellows grant awarded the Coastal California Civic Leadership Consortium supports the program’s implementation on four campuses and the creation of 315 fellowship opportunities focused on K-12 education, climate action, and food insecurity. Cal Poly San Luis Obispo will serve as the lead institution for the consortium, which also consists of CSU Long Beach, Cuesta College, and Allan Hancock College. Pending a successful first year, the program will receive another $4,725,000 to support another cohort of 315 fellows.

Climate action efforts will include partnerships with regional organizations such as Monterey Bay Economic PartnershipEcology ActionCommunity Climate SolutionsSLO Climate CoalitionEcologisticsCommunity Environmental Council, and the CSU Council on Ocean Affairs, Science & Technology.

“Cal Poly’s Initiative for Climate Leadership and Resilience has developed partnerships with a variety of educational institutions, nonprofit organizations, and governmental entities,” said Dr. Erin P. J. Pearse, professor of mathematics and director of the Initiative for Climate Leadership and Resilience. “We are thrilled at the opportunity to engage students in working with these partners to tackle the biggest challenges of the next generation.”

Those fellowships, says Pearse, could range from working on electric vehicle readiness plans to engaging in community outreach and education on environmentally sustainable choices. The goal, he says, is to provide meaningful work-based learning experiences while also improving communities.

MBEP has worked with the Initiative for Climate Leadership and Resilience and others at Cal Poly in a myriad of ways from presenting at the Central Coast Climate Solutions NOW conference to hosting a Cal Poly graduate-level intern who offered technical assistance to the City of Santa Cruz’ climate action program. MBEP looks forward to deepening its relationship with Cal Poly and community partners in the Monterey Bay region through the implementation of this award and the plan they are co-designing with the Coastal California Civic Leadership Consortium.

In the past three years, MBEP has already successfully hosted and placed more than 40 college- and graduate-level interns in work-based learning opportunities with public, private, and civic organizations through its Internship Program. “We are thrilled Cal Poly invited us to participate as a Community Network Partner to recruit and deploy up to 50 Fellows in our tri-county region, which will provide a hands-on learning experience and career development for students in addition to the community engagement and technical assistance needed to support local jurisdictions and organizations on collective climate action response,” said Ashley Gauer, MBEP Program Manager on Special Projects.

Pictured: As an MBEP Student Ambassador, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo graduate intern Justin Sharer assisted in the City of Santa Cruz’s green economy research