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What’s New at FRC – The 2022 Year in Review

By Dr. Kevin Trutna

Superintendent/President

Feather River College (FRC) started many new initiatives and programs last year, all designed to improve services to students and the community.  The programs described below were implemented in the calendar year 2022 and further the FRC mission to provide a high-quality, comprehensive student education, including opportunities for learning, workforce preparation, and achievement in a small college environment.

New initiatives in the Office of Instruction include a National Science Foundation multi-year $750,000 grant to improve rural Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) success.  FRC is one of a very few community colleges to be funded for this prestigious grant with the intent to increase rural success rates to a level equal to larger urban areas for obtainment of STEM degrees.  In addition, FRC also implemented an associate degree for guarantee transfer to CSU in Social Work and Human Services.

In the Career and Technical Education (CTE) arena, FRC started a Forestry and Fuels Technician certificate, as well as receiving provisional approval for a bachelor’s degree in Ecosystem Restoration and Applied Fire Management.  Building upon the necessary training for fire prevention, FRC collaborated with many NorCal colleges on a $21.4 million  Good Jobs Grant, in addition to grants designed around creating healthy forests from both the Sierra Nevada Conservancy and a $1.2 million Cal Fire training program in partnership with Chico State University.

In a new area for FRC, students can now earn professional certification from American Welding Society (AWS), and 14 students earned their certifications in December 2022.  A Class A commercial driver’s license (CDL) program is being developed in partnership with Sierra Pacific Industries.  Finally, a new Small Business Management certificate began in spring 2023 semester for FRC incarcerated students.

Improving facilities across campus, FRC was awarded a $349,000 planning grant for a new 126-bed student housing unit located on campus.  Schematic designs were developed, culminating in submission of the housing grant in January.  If funded through the Governor’s initiative to improve affordable student housing, this new unit will be fully funded through the California Community College Chancellor’s Office.  Also improving facilities on campus, the FRC Board of Trustees approved submission of a Final Project Proposal to compete for funding of a new instructional building that will replace FRC “temporary” buildings, which encompasses almost all of the classrooms and offices at the top of the hill on campus.  A requirement for state funding is a 25 percent local contribution, as the FRC Board developed a plan to incrementally fund a capital reserve account to be used as the required local match when the new instructional building is funded.

Student Services programs and grants were similarly busy throughout 2022.  FRC received funding for its Basic Needs program, helping provide students with basic necessity resources so they can focus on being successful in classes.  The Mental Health & Wellness Center received funding, as this program provides a full-time mental health professional available to students, along with other mental health services, workshops, and meetings.  Similarly, FRC received funding to target support for current or former Foster Youth students through the Next UP Program.  FRC also received support for undocumented students by identifying a campus liaison to assist students.  New LGBTQ+ specific funding helped the Eagle Pride club with outreach and student programming.  These support programs allow students more time to concentrate on studies versus spending an inordinate amount of time outside of class trying to navigate the myriad of services available.

FRC was awarded a California Community College Foundation Finish Line Scholarship totaling $125,000 and available to students each semester.  Targeting second-year students, this important scholarship helps remove barriers for students who are close to completion, with a purpose to help students finish their degree or certificate.  In addition, SB 85 provided emergency grant funds to provide eligible California residents enrolled in over six units with direct funding to meet immediate unmet financial needs due to a personal emergency.

The Learning Aligned Employment (LEAP) Program received a ten-year program allocation.  This helps student workers find jobs related to their intended major or degree program, including career exploration.  Student employment is now a comprehensive program, allowing students to earn money as student workers, and at the same time, collaborate with employers to gain employment experience in particular job fields.

In summary, FRC was very busy moving forward in 2022.  New funding sources, program expansion, new degrees and certificates, and various support grants were implemented to help FRC students.  By removing barriers to success, FRC students can focus on college completion and workforce preparation.  FRC already boasts some of the highest completion, retention, and success rates among small California community colleges.  The new initiatives improve the FRC focus on student success and provides funding directly to programs that meet this ideal.

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