Scorpion provides financial support to COC’s First Year Promise program

FILE PHOTO: Members of the 2017 graduating class march in to begin the College of the Canyons commencement ceremony held in the Honor Grove at College of the Canyons in Valencia on June 2. Dan Watson/For the Signal

Scorpion, a Valencia-based internet marketing firm, donated $24,000 to the College of the Canyons Foundation to support the college’s First Year Promise program, which gives first-year, full-time students the opportunity to attend COC tuition and fee free during their first year.

The donation—given to the Foundation Board of Directors Nov. 28—is expected to provide 24 First Year Promise students with a $1,000 scholarship in 2018 and 2019.  It also supports the COC Foundation’s goal to fundraise $500,000 during the next two years to ensure the success of the program.

“We are incredibly grateful for Scorpion’s donation toward the First-Year Promise program,” said Murray Wood, chief development officer of the COC Foundation. “Their generous donation will make all the difference to 24 students as they work hard to reach their academic goals at College of the Canyons.”

The marketing firm also recently joined the COC Foundation’s Chancellor’s Circle support group, which is COC’s leadership support group.

“It is our honor to support an institution in our local community that has played such an important role in many of our employees’ lives,” Scorpion CEO Rustin Kretz said in a statement.  “Our donation toward the First-Year Promise program will give more local students the opportunity to attend COC and pursue their educational and career goals.”

First Year Promise

COC’s First Year Promise program was first launched in fall 2017 after the college was awarded a $750,000 grant from the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office to support College Promise partnerships.

As one of 14 colleges chosen for the partnership, the grant financially supported the first two years of COC’s First Year Promise program and allowed the college to develop the offerings of its program.

“The First Year Promise program gives qualified incoming students the opportunity to attend College of the Canyons tuition-free and fee-free for their first fall and spring semester,” Eric Harnish, COC’s vice president of public information, advocacy and external relations told The Signal in March.  “We estimate that student that participates will save about $1,500.”

COC’s program also gave selected students digital textbooks, ongoing counseling and support, $100 supplies vouchers each semester,  free parking and/or bus passes, free printing abilities, priority registration and orientation sessions.

Students selected for the program are required to maintain 12 units, enroll in the spring and keep a minimum 2.5 GPA.  They also must enroll in courses, like counseling, math, English and freshman seminar, with other First Year Promise students in the summer and fall.

In its first year, the program benefited nearly 200 first-year, full-time students at COC.

“It has impacted my life a lot,” said Itziely Beltran, a graduate of Valencia High School and a COC First Year Promise student.  “I was worried I wasn’t going to take the classes I needed or that I would fall behind.  The guidance has been very helpful; I think that’s one of the biggest things for the First Year Promise is the guidance.”

Following the success of the program, California is hoping to extend the College Promise initiative to all 114 community colleges in the state.

With the passage with Assembly Bill 19 or the California College Promise, in October, the program is expected to extend to all first-year, full-time students at community colleges in the state.

This bill would require community colleges to waive students’ first-year tuition fees as long as they are enrolled in 12 or more semester units.

The California Senate Appropriations Committee predicted that this program would benefit an additional 19,000 community college students and save students anywhere from $1,100 to $1,400 per year, depending on their course load.

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On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_

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