Southwestern College Awarded $135,000 to Meet Student Needs

Student holding donated computers
Ulyssa Easley (L) and her friend, Malinda Valdez, pick up donated computers during one of the college’s distribution days.

CHULA VISTA — The San Diego Foundation has awarded Southwestern College two grants totaling $135,000 to help students affected by the fallout of the COVID-19 public health crisis.

In awards announced last week, The San Diego Foundation awarded $75,000 for Southwestern College to purchase and distribute computers and Wi-Fi hotspots to 600 students. Coupled with other district and Southwestern College Foundation funding, the college will have distributed 1,030 computers to students to continue their studies through online and remote learning.

“All students, regardless of economic status, need access to a computer and internet to improve their educational opportunities and ultimately, their futures,” said Mark Stuart, President & CEO of The San Diego Foundation. “With the current crisis now requiring students to learn at home, it’s more important than ever that we provide technology resources to children and young adults who will struggle to continue their education without these vital tools.”

A second award of $60,000 was given to the SWC Cares Emergency Fund to help students with needs such as housing, food, car payments and family needs.

“Many Southwestern College students are already at the brink of financial emergencies,” said Superintendent/President Dr. Kindred Murillo. “The restrictions placed upon everybody because of COVID-19 have caused many of our students to lose their jobs and sources of income. These awards help us give hope and encouragement to our students.”

The computer funding to Southwestern College was part of a $500,000 grant to the five community college districts in San Diego that are part of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Community College Association (SDICCCA). The application was submitted by Dr. Constance Carroll, chancellor of the San Diego Community College District.

The second award was submitted by Southwestern College Foundation Executive Director Sofia Salgado Robitaille. The application included powerful stories from current Southwestern College students who have benefitted from previous SWC Cares Emergency grants.

“Brigid works part-time at a dental office, as she strives to achieve a hygienist degree at SWC. She lives with, and cares for, her 85-year old grandmother and needs help paying for their rent. D’Jenne lost her job and is asking for help to pay for her son’s medications, plus food and toiletries. Meena needs help paying her car loan. She uses her car to get groceries and run errands for grandparents with pre-existing conditions (i.e. gout, hypertension, rheumatoid arthritis and knee ligament surgery),” the application included.

Given in allocations of up to $350, the SWC Cares Emergency grant has awarded tens of thousands of dollars since it was founded two years ago. The emergency grant has been funded by donations from Southwestern College’s Associated Student Organization, employee contributions and donations from the community.

The $135,000 in funding to Southwestern College is part of The San Diego Foundation’s COVID-19 Community Response Fund, which is hosted and administered by The San Diego Foundation in collaboration with San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, the co-chair of the county’s COVID-19 subcommittee. The fund is seeded with $1.25 million from The San Diego Foundation and $1 million from San Diego Gas & Electric. The Fund to date has granted more than $5.1 million to San Diego nonprofits working on the frontline to support low-wage workers, families and vulnerable communities impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.