Making a Difference : One College’s Approach: Commit ‘scholarship heresy’ to fund jobs

Compiled by Times researcher CATHERINE GOTTLIEB

When federal funding for a summer community job and scholarship program became mired in the machinations of Washington politics, Santa Monica College saved it with a memo, a handwritten note and one unorthodox expenditure.

THE MEMO April 14, 1993 To: Richard Moore (president of Santa Monica College) From: Rocky Young, vice president Santa Monica College is an applicant for President Clinton’s Summer of Service. The program would provide desperately needed community service while employing college-age youth. Unfortunately, the funding is held up in the Senate by filibuster. I think we cannot wait for the politics of Washington. It has been almost a year since the insurrection in Los Angeles and we are still waiting for the political process. A program must be started to provide summer employment. Obviously this is not easy for us to solve during our current budget crisis. However, that is the excuse everyone is using and quite frankly, that doesn’t get it done! Therefore, let me suggest scholarship heresy--let’s commit $200,000 from our David Simon Endowment (not interest but principal) to fund a Santa Monica College version of Summer Service. If Washington gets on track the money will not have to be used.

THE POLITICS April 21, 1993 President Clinton’s $16.3 billion jobs package dies in the Senate after a lengthy Republican filibuster.

THE HANDWRITTEN RESPONSE April 22, 1993 From: Richard Moore To: Santa Monica College Board of Trustees (Young’s) idea is excellent. I have ordered him to proceed directly. I want him to end the red tape and get us a quality summer program.


THE EXPENDITURE April 30 With approval of the trustees, $200,000 in principal is moved from the David Simon Endowment Fund to underwrite Santa Monica College Community Internships.

THE PLANNING May 1993 Young organizes a 21-member program steering committee to establish partnerships with community organizations, publicize the program to students and select participants.

THE PROGRAM June 21-July 30 For six weeks while going to summer school, 100 students are earning $5.97 an hour while working 19 hours a week as community interns. Each student who works at least 100 hours and maintains a “C” average or better will receive a $1,000 scholarship.

RANGE OF INTERNSHIP EXPERIENCES * Nurse’s and teacher’s aides for Los Angeles Unified School District * Storyteller/literacy aide at Santa Monica city library * Tutor, helping at-risk Latino youth, for the Latino Resource Organization * Staff assistant for low-income clients of the Neighborhood Resource Development Corporation’s home safety and security program


Santa Monica College Student Body: 23,203 Anglo: 48% Asian: 20% Hispanic: 16% African-American: 11% Other: 5%