Cal Poly Can

Dr. Erin Pearse | #CaliforniansForAll College Corps

February 09, 2022 Cal Poly College of Science and Mathematics Season 2 Episode 1
Cal Poly Can
Dr. Erin Pearse | #CaliforniansForAll College Corps
Show Notes Transcript

This episode features Dr. Erin Pearse, a professor in the Mathematics Department here at Cal Poly. Dr. Pearse tells us about #CaliforniansForAll College Corps, an initiative by Gov. Gavin Newsom that aims to provide 6,500 college students statewide with service-learning opportunities over the span of two academic years to tackle statewide challenges in climate action, K-12 education, and food insecurity.


Cal Poly Can is a student-produced podcast for the College of Science and Mathematics at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, California. This podcast will feature conversations with students and faculty members sharing their unique Learn by Doing experiences within the many diverse communities and disciplines in our college. 

Check out our college’s publication at

To learn more about our student research opportunities, visit

We would love to hear from you! 

Give us feedback at If you would like to hear more episodes like this in the future, please support the College of Science and Math and visit


Support the show

Hi, everyone. Welcome to the Cal Poly can podcast, a student produced podcast highlighting some of the amazing things happening here at the Cal Poly College of Science and Mathematics. I'm your host Devan Spiegel. This podcast will feature conversations with students and faculty members sharing their unique learned by doing experiences within the many diverse communities and disciplines in our college. Welcome and enjoy the episode. This episode features a story from our colleges publication intersections magazine, which showcases the healthy, global, inclusive and equitable communities of our college. To learn more about our publication, click the link in our podcast description. Enjoy the conversation. Hi, everyone, today I am here with Dr. Aaron pierce with the College of Science and Math. We're going to chat a little bit about the California ins for all college corps fellowship program. Dr. Pierce, do you mind introducing yourself and telling us a little bit about this program? Sure, yeah. So I'm a professor in the mathematics department here from the College of Science and Math, and also the director of the initiative for Climate Leadership and resilience, which is a faculty group on campus working to encourage climate action and help get students involved in working in the community to on projects related to decarbonization and climate adaptation. Wonderful. And could we have a little bit more information about this program and when it was granted to Cal Poly? Yeah, sorry about that. So um, the this, this grant just came through, it was announced January 15. It's part of a statewide initiative to advance climate action, food security, and K 12. Education, it comes out of the governor's office. And the idea is to establish a fellowship program that will allow college students to work on these community service actions, while in college use the money to pay for their college to defray debt, and at the same time, work towards their degree objectives. So we're going to have a bunch of fellows, so Cal Poly is going to be getting about 315 Fellowship positions. And each of these fellows will be working for 450 hours on a particular project or with a particular organization. And in exchange for that, that'd be receiving the $7,000 stipend, and Upon successfully completing the 450 hours, they get a further $3,000 bonus. So it's pretty good deal all together, that means it works out to about a little over $22 an hour. And if it's structured well, by which I mean, we can place students with organizations that are working on things that align well with their course objectives, their degree objectives, then they'll actually be getting academic credit for it at the same time. So it's sort of a win win win scenario. And the kinds of places where the students will be posted are government agencies and nonprofits. So our focus is very much on climate action, the first of the three focus areas. And so we're going to have some students working presumably with local cities and county agencies working on things like electric vehicle readiness plans, so rolling out kind of the the plan for infrastructure development and things like that. We'll also have them working with local nonprofits, supporting climate action and education and outreach, urban greening, working with programs involved in buildings, decarbonization. So a lot of our emissions come from just operating buildings, heating them and keeping the lights on and things like that. And so it's there's a big move on right now to replace aging, natural gas appliances with electrified counterparts that don't have emissions. And so that requires a fair bit of strategy and planning and financial forethought and, and also, you know, engineering, as well. So there's lots of different ways for our students to have a rich experiential learning process, getting involved with different aspects of these projects. That's a really exciting opportunity. It sounds you know, a great opportunity for students and our kids. Unity will really benefit from it. That's awesome that we get to experience that here at Cal Poly. And I know you were kind of mentioning this, but obviously, our learned by doing model is a big deal here at Cal Poly. How do you feel this program is going to align with our Learn by Doing mindset? Yeah, well, during the recruitment phase of the program, we're going to be recruiting both community host organizations, and also students. And during that process, we will be trying to matchmake as well as possible so that we can, as I said, place students with organizations that are working on projects that align well with what they're doing. So for example, if we are going to be putting some people at the county, we might be drawing those students, those fellows from either, you know, urban and regional planning, or from transportation engineering, or from civil engineering or from from one of these other disciplines that aligns well with that. And then the work that they're doing for the community can actually take the role of perhaps a senior project or perhaps project based coursework for one of the courses that they're currently enrolled in. So it really is learned by doing and it's also learned by doing good. Wonderful, and I know you've mentioned these different partnerships with the county, and did you get to select the who you're going to be working with? And what was that process? Kind of like? Yeah, so we. So there was a lot of just sort of loose discussion done in the beginning with sort of when I was drawing on my network of contacts and trying to figure out, Hey, would you guys be interested in going in on this, when we started putting together the proposal for the grant. And so now we have until June to sort out the details and figure out okay, who exactly now that we know this is going ahead, right? Who exactly is going to get what, you know, precisely which organizations are going to be involved and how many fellows are going to be placed at each. And that's not totally determined yet. So we're still working out the details. It's not all drawn up. So it's possible for community host organizations to become involved during this this organizational phase, which lasts until June. And then the recruitment of the students, that's also that's not going to happen until later in spring quarter. So probably May, May, June, something like that. Exciting that all the really good collaborations and work getting put on. So when this program gets put into place, do you have any idea how long it's going to be or how long we may have that opportunity here at Cal Poly? Yes. So the the initial award, which was for $10.6 million for Cal Poly is to cover the initial planning phase, which lasts until June, basically July. And then we have from July of this year until July of next year for the first cohort to complete their 450 hours. And so that can be done during the academic year, it can be done as summer job. It's flexible. And then there's a funding for a second cohort, which would run for, you know, July 2023, through July 2024. And so, altogether, with 315 fellows going for two years, that's over a little over a quarter million hours of work that we're going to be able to put towards these projects. So it's, it's a sizable investment of time and effort. And if you price community service hours. So there's there's a, there's a national model, and I forget what the name of it is. But it says that basically every hour of community service work that's done through volunteer means is worth approximately $33. And so if you calculate that, and that's sorry, that's worth $33 to to the community as sort of as an economic bonus to them. So that's going to be a huge economic boon to our county and the general area around here. That's wonderful. And that's really exciting that it's that flexible students because we all know, student life can get a little crazy. That's wonderful. This will work out for everyone. And where can students from the College of Science and Math go for more information on this program? So we're just setting up a website right now. It'll be available at the Cal Poly Service Center for Service and action website. So that's service and action dot Cal And that should probably be appearing this week, I think. Great. Thank you Dr. Pearse for coming out today and chatting with me about this program. This is a great opportunity. And we're lucky that we got this grant here at Cal Poly. having me and thanks for helping me get the word out. Yeah, of course, and I hope everyone has a great rest of their day. All right, thanks. Bye Thank you for listening to the Cal Poly can podcast. I hope you enjoyed the conversation. And if you or someone you know would like to be featured, please click the link in our podcast description for more information. We would love to hear from you. Fill out the survey under the link in our description to tell us how you heard about the podcast or give us ideas for future episodes. Thanks for listening. This is Morgan Marshall, Senior Director for Advancement and External Relations for the College of Science and Mathematics at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, California. If you like what you've heard today, and you would like to hear more episodes like this in the future, please support the College of Science and Math at giving Cal