Tax Dollars Invested In Higher Ed Pay Off In Billions in Revenue


California’s Economic Payoff: Investing in College Access & Completion is new statewide report conducted by researchers at the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues at the University of California, Berkeley. It was commissioned by The Campaign for College Opportunity and co-released with the California Civil Rights Coalition and the California Chamber of Commerce. The report answers two questions: What are the benefits of investing in higher education? And, is it worth it for Californians?

This study concludes that the benefits of higher education extend well beyond the direct payoff for students and include substantial gains to the state, and it is indeed worth the investment. California´s higher education investments pay off for all of California, not only for the individuals who receive a college education through increased lifetime earnings, but for the state in increased tax revenue and reduced costs for social welfare programs and incarceration.

 Key Findings for California’s Return on Investment:

  • For every dollar California invests in public higher education, it will receive a net return on investment of $4.50. That’s a 450% return on investment.
  • The return is double for those who complete college–$4.80–than for those who enter but don’t obtain a degree–$2.40.
  • Past graduates of UC and CSU return $12 billion annually, well above the current general fund expenditures for the UC, CSU and California Community College systems combined.
  • Californians with a college degree will earn $1,340,000 more in their lifetime than their peers with only a high school diploma.
  • By entering and completing college, the average Californian will spend 4 years less in poverty, reducing the expected number of years they receive cash aid by more than 2 years.

“College completion represents far and away the best investment return for both individuals and the state. California’s elected officials would be remiss not to factor in these significant returns when making tough budget decisions.”

– Michele Siqueiros, Executive Director, Campaign for College Opportunity

“This report demonstrates the strong investment value of the state’s expenditures on higher education. California’s leaders must ensure adequate funding of our colleges and universities to help secure our economic future.”

– Allan Zaremberg, President, California Chamber of Commerce       

“This further documents the need to look at public higher education access and completion, as well as investments in the systems, as civil rights issues.  Completing higher education gives individuals from all ethnic backgrounds and socio-economic status equal opportunity.”

Claudia Pena, Statewide Director, California Civil Rights Coalition 

 Check out the full report HERE.

Congratulations to California Green Ribbon Awards Schools

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today congratulated four California schools that were among the first 78 nationwide to earn U.S. Department of Education “Green Ribbon Schools” titles for exemplary environmental programs and practices.

“California’s schools are leading the way into a cleaner, more energy-efficient future, and it’s wonderful to see that work recognized with some of the very first national Green Ribbon Schools awards,” Torlakson said.

Twenty-nine states, the District of Columbia, and the Bureau of Indian Education nominated nearly 100 schools, of which 66 per public, including eight charters, and 12 were private. California nominated four schools (the maximum number allowed) and all were declared winners.

They are:

·         Environmental Charter High School (Lawndale Elementary School District.

·         Longfellow Elementary School  (Long Beach Unified School District)

·         Grand View Elementary School  (Manhattan Beach Unified School District)

·         The Athenian School, a private school in Danville

“I commend today’s winners for their commitment to the earth and to learning,” Torlakson said.

Torlakson, whose Schools of the Future report issued last year led to California’s participation in the federal awards program, said he was impressed by the inventive projects undertaken at the winning schools, from Walk-to-School Wednesdays to community recycling centers to rainwater collection irrigation systems.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan made the announcement of the Green Ribbon Schools winners this morning in Washington, D.C., where he praised the efforts of America’s newly declared green schools.

To access the U.S. Department of Education’s News Release, please go to:

In his proclamation declaring April 22, 2012 as Earth Day, President Barack Obama said, “As we work to leave our children a safe, sustainable future, we must also equip them with the tools they need to take on tomorrow’s environmental challenges. Supporting environmental literacy and a strong foundation in science, technology, engineering, and math for every student will help ensure our youth have the skills and knowledge to advance our clean energy economy.” To read the complete proclamation, please go to:

For more information on Torlakson’s Schools of the Future Report, please visit the California Department of Education Web site at

For more information on the USDE Green Ribbon Schools Program, please visit the CDE Web site at

Torlakson Announces New Family Engagement Framework


SACRAMENTO—Sharing the vision of California GEAR UP in the vital importance of parent involvement in the success of students, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today released a new, free publication, Family Engagement Framework, a Tool for California School Districts, to help school districts engage families in their children’s education.

“Parents are every child’s first teachers,” Torlakson said. “The good news is you don’t need an advanced degree to help your child succeed at school. It’s the little things that make a big difference—reading at home, talking with your child about school, and setting high expectations. Our Family Engagement Framework provides practical ways to help schools support parents to stay involved and help their children learn.”

The Family Engagement Framework is the culmination of nearly a decade of collaboration between the California Department of Education (CDE), an informal Title I advisory group to the CDE called Family Area Network, and the California Comprehensive Center at WestEd, California GEAR UP strategic partner and evaluator.  Funding for the project was provided through a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The development of the Framework is authorized under Title I of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act and CaliforniaEducation Code Section 11503.

The Framework describes 18 principles that are essential for family and community involvement with the school district. These principles are grouped into five action areas to:

(1) help school districts build the skills and confidence of parents,(2) demonstrate leadership, (3) use resources, (4) monitor progress, and (5) ensure access and equity for everyone. Specific actions to engage families and the community are described for each principle, ranging from basic to progressive to innovative. The Framework is outlined in a way to help school districts evaluate their progress and plan for improvements.

“This new resource from the department will be a valuable addition to our family engagement initiatives and we will share this tool with GEAR UP schools across the State.  In collaboration with our partners, we provide statewide services to families because we know that “Families Make the Difference”.
-Shelley Davis
Director, CA GEAR UP

The California Comprehensive Center did a thorough review of literature showing a strong link between parental involvement activities and student achievement. The research is summarized in the Framework, coupled with specific examples of what schools, communities, and parents can do to help students succeed. The publication also contains a list of articles that school administrators and teachers can read to create effective, research-based practices in family engagement. For example, the Framework can guide districts in planning and coordinating family engagement programs more effectively and includes examples of communications to families that may be copied or adapted for use in newsletters, e-mails, and other outreach efforts.

Copies of the Framework will be distributed to all school districts in California and will also be posted on the California Comprehensive Center Web site at


Bridge Project Paves The Path Towards College

students celebrate completion of ‘Core Values’ program at Reith Elementary
The California GEAR UP Bridge Project is well underway in Elk Grove, CA. As the direct student services component of California GEAR UP, the Bridge project continues to build on the philosophy that middle school success is a strong predictor of high school completion and college attendance.A Bridge for Students Model:  Approximately 458 seventh graders from five elementary schools in the Elk Grove Unified School District will be the cohort of students who will receive direct services until they graduate from high school in 2017.  One of the objectives guiding this model is: To Increase by 20 Percent the Number of Bridge Students Achieving at Grade-Appropriate Levels in Mathematics as Compared to the Respective 2010-11 Class at the School.

The Bridge Model is characterized by collaboration, student progress tracking, and data sharing among a family of schools across educational levels for the purpose of preparing all students in the cohort for college.

Program components include hosting events like the Regional Family Engagement night, focused on bringing families from the entire Valley Elk Grove region together to focus on student success strategies. All students in the 5th-9th grade and their families were targeted with a heavy emphasis on engaging students in providing successful strategies. Families took part in success strategy sessions featuring AVID,  successful study habits, and high school leadership students that served as mentors for the evening, andfamily engagement tutorials by community leaders, and GEAR UP staff presentations.

The Bridge Project is working throughout the Valley region in Elk Grove Unified School District in a myriad of ways, one of which being the implementaiton of the ‘Core Values’ program which includes a character development program that discusses integrity, perserverance, indomitable spirit, and other character traits and all of the activities have a physical outlet to them so that they are fun.  The Core Values program culminates with a ‘Random Acts of Kindness’ competition that puts the Core Values theories into action.

The rationale for this the Bridge Project emanates from the experience of the last six years in which the California GEAR UP Program began implementing a model of direct services to a cohort of students at one middle and high school and builds on the success of this previous model.

The bridge project is working with a feeder pattern of seven schools schools in Elk Grove Unified School District to truly ‘build a bridge’ for student success. We will continue to keep you updated on this component of California GEAR UP over the next 6 years.

For more information on the Bridge Project component of California GEAR UP, please email Crystal Robinson, Project Manager:

California GEAR UP Completes Site Visits and Statewide Events


As part of the extensive six-month planning phase, California GEAR UP has completed 51 school site visits and three statewide events in Glendale, Berkeley, and Costa Mesa.

Participating in the planning phase of the California GEAR UP program, schools will complete the following activities:

• Host a School-Site Visit for GEAR UP Orientation (2 hours maximum) with key leaders (potential GEAR UP Leadership Team) to be scheduled between January 27 and February 29, 2012.

• Participate in a Planning Session for GEAR UP: A full-day session, 8 am – 4 pm, for the school leadership team.

• Complete Perceptions Activity with school-wide staff.

• Schools Receive Notification by May 21, 2012: Schools will be notified of their final selection for participation in the 6-year California GEAR UP Program.

Schools level of enthusiasm and commitment already demonstrated tells me that they are ready to be a part of something bigger that will help to create systemic change at their school, in their community and state wide. Plus the fact that we have the opportunity to work with these schools for five and half years – this will give us the time to go deeper and hopefully make a bigger impact for each school, their students, families and the community!

Michele Molitor-Whole School Services Coach

The goal of California GEAR UP is to develop and sustain the organizational capacity of middle schools to prepare all students for high school and higher education through a systemic network of  support for adults who influence middle school students, specifically their counselors, faculty, school leaders, and families.

The planning phase activities have been designed to begin the capacity building process by introducing tools and services to school leadership teams and begin the 6 year California GEAR UP Whole School Services process.

CGU is about working with the adults who want to change school culture for the better, so that ALL students are prepared to go college. It is systemic change. Despite lay-offs, budget cuts and the changes that come along with these:  teachers, counselors and administrators want what is best for kids and it has shown in the amazing work of the leadership teams at our events.  This is truly uplifting work!

Gina Rodriguez-Whole School Services Manager

Leadership teams will now return to their schools to share the planning phase tools and strategies with the entire community, including participating in the Perceptions Tool Activity.

Schools Receive Notification by May 21, 2012: Schools will be notified of their final selection for participation in the 6-year California GEAR UP Program.