Juliana Garcia Josh Fryday and Kenia
Story Service Learning

Corps Strength

Alisia Ruble

CSU students and alumni make a significant impact on California communities through the #CaliforniansForAll College Corps program.

Juliana Garcia Josh Fryday and Kenia

​Cal State San Bernardino College Corps fellow Juliana Garcia (left) with California Chief Service Officer Josh Fryday (center) and CSUSB College Corps fellow Kenia Castaneda.


Now in its second year of operation, the #CaliforniansForAll College Corps program provides college students with meaningful work experience and helps them pay for their education while forging more equitable communities across California. The first program of its kind available to AB540-eligible Dreamers, the initiative connects students with service opportunities in fields like K-12 education, food insecurity and climate action. 

California Volunteers launched the program in early 2022 in partnership with AmeriCorps and 45 colleges and universities statewide, including 16 CSUs. Through College Corps, students can earn $10,000 for completing 450 hours of service to their community. About 1,300 CSU students have participated in the program each year of its operation—making up more than half of the total number of fellows and contributing up to 1,170,000 hours of service.

“Valuable, life-changing experiences shaping the leaders of tomorrow are at the center of the partnership between the #CaliforniansForAll College Corps program and the California State University system," says California Chief Service Officer Josh Fryday. “Because CSU is a world-class institution, we are able to create models like College Corps to lift up all our communities and inspire the next generation of leaders."​

College Corps aligns with the CSU's mission to graduate compassionate, civic-minded leaders and enables students to apply the knowledge learned in the classroom to benefit their communities, strengthen their leadership and public speaking skills and gain valuable career training.

Read about their experiences.

Encouraging a College-Going Culture

Cal State East Bay senior Kristin Rizarri is participating in her second year as a College Corps fellow. A health science/public health major, she chose to complete her service hours through CSUEB's Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement (MESA) College Prep Program, which assists students from local middle and high schools who have been historically excluded in STEM fields to excel in math and science and go on to college in math-based majors.Kristin Rizarri Cal State East Bay College Corps fellow Kristin Rizarri

Rizarri and her College Corps fellows help organize virtual and in-person professional development workshops, ​engineering competitions and fun activities to encourage STEM exploration. They also host regular meetings they call “College Corner" to provide an open forum for their students to ask questions about college, and often visit their partner schools to connect with students and foster a college-going culture.

The most rewarding part, Rizarri says, is being able to pass along the knowledge and skills she has learned at CSUEB and beyond to provide the students with resources they can use in school and in their personal lives. She says the schools she works with are in underserved communities where many students don't have the means to pursue higher education and even fewer pursue STEM degrees.

“A lot of the students from these schools need more attention because they don't really have mentors or see themselves represented in STEM fields," Rizarri says. “So, it's been nice to be that person for them. I want them to think, 'If she can do it, I can do it, too.'"

The Antioch native transferred to CSUEB from Los Medanos College with plans to become a nurse, but says she is becoming more interested in pursuing a career in health administration or advocacy so she can make a more positive impact on the community.

“I've been learning so much at CSUEB about public health policy, how to make new policies and improve on existing ones," Rizarri says. “Through College Corps I have really improved my public speaking skills and grown as a leader, and I want to take on a bigger role in public health advocacy."

In addition to her work with College Corps, Rizarri also works as an employment advisor for special needs adults in the workforce. She plans to graduate in spring 2024 and pursue a master's degree.​

Gaining Career Insight

Cal State San Bernardino junior and College Corps fellow Juliana Garcia was placed with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Desert, which matches K-12 students, affectionately called “littles," with college students called “bigs." Garcia is part of a site-based program in which she meets with her little sister at their local Boys & Girls Club to help with homework and act as a mentor. She also provides guidance to the other College Corps fellows and helps coordinate monthly activities with the other Boys & Girls Club students.

​​​Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet​Cal State San Bernardino College Corps fellow Juliana Garcia ​Garcia was selected to represent the CSUSB Palm Desert Campus as a College Corps ambassador, which enables her to network and collaborate with fellows from all 45 of the partner campuses. She recently participated in the annual College Corps state convening in Sacramento.

Though she has a lot on her plate—she is also the president of the CSUSB Palm Desert Campus soccer club and is employed at CSUSB as a student mentor—Garcia says she chose to participate in the College Corps program because the work aligns with her goal to become a middle or high school mathematics teacher. The experience, though, has changed her perception of the role of educators in public education.

“I went into College Corps expecting to learn more about how I can be a better teacher academically, but in working with the littles I began to see how I can help my future students in a more emotional and mental way," Garcia says.

Part of Garcia's job as a fellow is to conduct entrance interviews with the littles to see which College Corps fellow they should be paired with. She says the interviews reveal a lot about their upbringing and how their experiences have contributed to certain behaviors and attitudes.

“When we get to know them on a personal level, it really explains a lot of their actions and their moods towards other students, and it makes us see them in a different light," Garcia says. “A lot of people have the misconception that the loud, disruptive students are just 'bad kids,' but it's usually those ones who need more compassion. I'm glad I have that wisdom now."

Having grown up in a lower-income neighborhood in the Coachella Valley, Garcia says it's important for her to use her education to inspire future students to go to college. She also wants to dispel the myth that some people just aren't good at math. But, most importantly, she wants to make her parents proud.

“Both of my parents immigrated from Mexico so that their children would have access to opportunities they didn't," she says. “When I cross that commencement stage next spring, it will be a big 'thank you' to them."

Passing the Torch

It's not just students who are getting in on the action. CSU alumni are giving back to their alma maters by serving as College Corps site supervisors and connecting students with relevant career training.

Cal State LA alumnus Daniel Madrid, who earned a master's degree in English literature, serves as a College Corps site supervisor for A Community of Friends (ACOF), an organization committed to ending homelessness, where he is a family and children's specialist and a data analyst. Madrid has worked with Cal State LA's Center for Engagement, Service and the Public Good and East Los Angeles Community College (ELACC) for several years to recruit students for ACOF, though this is the first year they are participating in the College Corps program.

“I was a product of Cal State LA and ELACC, and I was very proud of that—I still feel connected to that environment and to the culture," Madrid says. “When I took on my role at A Community of Friends, I saw that the students from these colleges would be a light of hope that would encourage the children we serve."

ACOF provides permanent supportive housing and resources for individuals who have been chronically homeless and are living with a mental illness. Many of these individuals also have children. One service ACOF offers is family and children's programming that helps these individuals overcome trauma they have experienced, which includes academic support and enrichment activities like art and music. College Corps students help the child residents with homework, administer workshops and more.

“The students from Cal State LA become more than just tutors, they become mentors," Madrid says. “The kids get to see and engage with somebody who has likely had some of the same life experiences and was still able to find success. They can build a bridge with them and see beyond subsidized housing, beyond violence, beyond gangs."

In addition to benefiting the children at ACOF, Cal State LA College Corps students gain hands-on experience in the social services and education fields, receive one-on-one mentorship from Madrid and his colleagues and even have the chance to be hired permanently. In fact, Madrid's current family and children's programming coordinator, a fellow Cal State LA graduate, came from the College Corps program.

“Many of our College Corps students volunteer after their programming is over," Madrid says. “There's still a willingness to serve even after hours. That shows the level of commitment and level of connectedness they have with the families, and that's really important to us."

WATCH: ​College Corps students at CSU Bakersfield talk about how the program has helped drive their education, expand their professional networks and pave a path to career success and leadership for them.​



​The #CaliforniansForAll College Corps program is funded and coordinated at the campus level and supported by the CSU system's Center for Community Engagement (CCE), whose mission is to create and lead initiatives that serve the social and civic health of our state through teaching, learning and service.

During a recent academic year, CCE made nearly 2,000 service-learning courses available to 35,000 CSU students, developed AmeriCorps programs, and made one-day service, alternative break and other opportunities available to an additional 17,000 students. These combined efforts enabled students to contribute nearly 2 million hours of direct service to California's communities.