The Heights

Updated: March 13, 2017

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Student government awarded $10,000 civic engagement grant

Last fall, the Associated Students of Foothill College (ASFC) was awarded a $10,000 grant to support student learning and civic engagement. Awarded by the non-partisan Civic Impact Project, the grant is designed to ensure community college students have a voice in government and encourage civic engagement and community service.

Foothill was one of 25 community colleges chosen to receive the grant and during the fall, conducted student voter registration drives and disseminated voter information throughout the campus. During Club Day and a Political Awareness Event, ASFC volunteers helped register voters, educated students on absentee voting, and located polling places. On October 14, student leaders even organized a panel featuring U.S. Representative Anna Eshoo and Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian.

 "It has been rewarding to see ASFC come together over this project. We have come up with some innovative ideas and it seems that students are really responding to our efforts," says Ramiel Petros, ASFC President.

After election day, the Civic Impact Project announced that Foothill was alone responsible for 10 percent of the total number of complete voter registrations, something that Interim Dean of Student Affairs and Activities Thom Shepard is particularly proud of.

“During the election, you heard so much attention paid to the fact that young people don’t vote,” he says. “To see our students come together and undertake such an effort was especially meaningful to me. Young people do care and they want to be involved in the process.”

Recognizing that the presidential election elicited strong feelings on both sides, ASFC hosted an open forum a few days later. Attendees, which included both students and employees, shared their feelings about the election and the future of the country. Those who weren’t comfortable standing up in front of the crowd were encouraged to write their thoughts down on message boards placed around the event.

“The forum was an idea that came directly from ASFC,” says Daphne Small, Director of Student Activities. “The civic impact grant allowed them to think of a way to bring the campus together to discuss an important topic that was on the minds of so many. Without the grant, I am not sure if we could have pulled together something so quickly.”

After the holidays, several students came together to form the Use Your Voice Club, which DOES WHAT. One of their first activities was attending protest against the travel ban at San Francisco City hall. ASFC was able to fund the students’ transportation out of the grant funds.

With less than five months left in the academic year, ASFC is deciding how to spend the remainder of the grant funds. Last month they held a panel discussion featuring students from the some of the countries named in the travel ban and there is hope that there will be more of these types of events in the future.  Regardless of what comes together, Small is proud of the work her students have accomplished.

“I am proud of everything we have been able to do this year,” she says. “This grant has allowed us to put together a series of activities that foster a greater understanding of the democratic process and the role we can play in it.

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