June 30, 2022, Sacramento, CA – The California Legislature concluded the year’s session and budget process recognizing Calbright’s substantial progress. Full funding for the College is included in the state’s 2022-2023 fiscal year budget, signed by Governor Gavin Newsom. In addition to this allocation of ongoing funds, AB 2820, which sought to dissolve Calbright, was not heard by the Senate Committee on Education.
Now under the leadership of President Ajita Talwalker Menon for a second fiscal year, Calbright’s momentum is palpable. In March, the College’s student body surpassed 1,000 students for the first time in history—an increase of more than 110% since July 2021—and continues to grow. In April, Calbright conferred its 100th certificate as completion numbers continue to accelerate and currently stand at 116, less than three years after opening its doors to students. During the 2021-2022 fiscal year, the College awarded 65 certificates, with 39 issued between January and June 2022. As Calbright’s larger student body progresses through its programs, it is anticipated the hastened pace will continue.
Equally critical to these accomplishments is who Calbright students are—learners like Alana and Yvette—who reflect the College’s mission to serve adult learners.
- 92% are 25+ years old (approx. 42% across the CCC system); median age is late 30s
- 24% identify as Black, 33% as Latinx, and 19% as Asian
- 34% are parents or caregivers (approx. 10% across the CCC system)
- 40% of students are unemployed, an additional 18% work part-time, and 31% are displaced workers who recently experienced job loss or hours reductions
“I’d like to thank our supporters in the Legislature as well as our advocates in Sacramento and throughout the state for thoughtful conversations and genuine interest in Calbright’s progress this year,” said Jenny Johnson, Calbright’s Vice President of Government Relations. “As Calbright continues to grow and expand during our seven-year startup period, we’ll continue to evolve, improve, and support solving the shared challenges across the California Community Colleges system – we’re a different college today than we were six months ago, and will be a different institution six months from now. We’ve grown our student body amidst an unprecedented decline in community college enrollment, established new partnerships, and have a clear vision forward for building this new college and education model from the ground up. Continued support from the state is vital to advance our efforts to solve the complex equation for how to support non-traditional learners and nurture their success.”
Complementing enrollment growth, new academic programs are also under development, with a goal of 10 programs in total by the end of 2023. Calbright’s new Data Analysis program is scheduled to launch as a pilot later this summer, and will likely open to the general public in late 2022. In addition, the College has partnered with SEIU-UHW labor union to build a statewide Licensed Vocational Nurse training program to help create an accessible and low-cost option that expands the state’s pipeline for essential frontline healthcare workers – the College plans to submit an application to the Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians for the program this summer. Calbright is also two years ahead of schedule with regards to accreditation.
Building a college from the ground up and then scaling it takes time, which is why Calbright’s founding legislation clearly outlines a seven-year startup period for the College to build necessary infrastructure. While there aren’t perfect comparisons in higher education to Calbright’s model and startup activities, Western Governors University’s early years provide some context. When WGU opened its doors in 1999, initial enrollment was 150 students. Today, it stands at roughly 130,000. At the end of its third year, WGU had conferred four degrees.
Calbright is guided by its 2021-2023 Strategic Vision, which lays out ambitious but achievable goals that rise to meet this unique moment and help foster an equitable economic recovery as California emerges from the pandemic. To learn more about the work the College is engaged in, please visit our website for more testimonials and updates on the College’s progress toward achieving its goals.
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Contact: Taylor Huckaby
Email: [email protected]