Assemblyman Salas secures $6 million for Bakersfield College health education programs

Bakersfield College has reason to celebrate this week after getting word that the local community college will receive an additional $6 million in state funding secured by Assemblymember Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield. According to twin news releases from BC and Salas’ office, the funding will help the college expand and implement workforce training programs related to nursing and health care.

The funding comes in addition to $44.4 million Salas secured this year for a range of Central Valley projects and educational investments, Salas’ office said. “I am happy to champion more money coming to Bakersfield College,” Salas stated in the releases. “This additional $6 million will help train more nurses and health professionals for the valley so that our local families will have greater health access and options.” The funding is authorized in Assembly Bill 132, the higher education budget bill, which was signed Tuesday by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

According to BC’s release, the projects proposed will include expanding the college’s Rural Health Equity and Learning collaborative, the Certified Nursing Assistant and Registered Nurse programs, and the allied health programs such as the new Physical Therapy Assistant program, while also providing funding for new post-pandemic student health and wellness services, and new certification programs, such as the Mental Health Worker Certificate. Sonya Christian, Kern Community College District Chancellor and past president of Bakersfield College, lauded Salas for his continued support of BC and higher education. “Assemblymember Rudy Salas makes things happen and his work embodies keeping the #ValleyStrong,” Christian said in a statement.

The college has been able to scale up several programs thanks to some $22 million in funding Salas has secured for BC in recent years, Christian said. “His continued commitment to career education directly supports students in ways that matter to their futures, health and success,” she said. Bakersfield College will use the direct $6 million investment for the following programs:

• Expanding the Rural Health Equity and Learning collaborative.

• Expanding the certified nursing assistant and registered nurse programs.

• Providing nursing scholarships for students who volunteered to serve in vaccination clinics.

• Expanding the Allied Health Simulation Laboratory.

• Expanding the radiology technology mammography and sonography programs.

• Adding the Mental Health Worker Certificate.

• Adding postpandemic student health and wellness services.

• Providing educational services to prevent chronic illness among at-risk rural residents.

AB 132 also provides an unprecedented $47.1 billion statewide investment in college affordability and access including:

• $115 million for Zero-Textbook-Cost Degree grant programs and open educational resources at community colleges to help address the rising costs of textbooks.

• $100 million to create Basic Needs Centers to help homeless and food insecure students access resources and enroll in CalFresh.

• $100 million for community colleges to increase student retention rates and enrollment.

• $2 billion to address housing and space needs at the UC, CSU and community colleges.

• Provides $20 million for CCCs to establish and expand High Road Training Partnerships and Construction Careers workforce development programs.

• Provides $6,000 per student in non-tuition support for Cal Grant students who are former foster youth.

• Expands the California Kids Investment and Development Savings Program to provide $500 base deposits to college savings accounts for public school students from low-income families, English learners and foster youth.

• Establishes the Learning-Aligned Employment program to help underrepresented students with financial need gain relevant work experience, promoting long-term employment opportunities.

• Establishes the Golden State Education and Training Grant Program to provide grants for education or high-quality training for workers displaced by the pandemic.

• Authorizes community colleges to use federal emergency relief funds to waive student fees for students who have unpaid fees due to impacts of COVID-19.

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