Running Start students Michael Sanchez and Leslie Marin. Photo courtesy of Monie Photography.

For some high school graduates in Santa Barbara, higher education does not seem like a viable option. Some have never thought of themselves as college-bound, while others are overwhelmed with family and financial responsibilities. Regardless of the reason, these students don’t see college in their future. The Running Start program at Santa Barbara City College targets these students, opening the door to higher education by providing academic, financial, and tutorial support. Thanks in part to a $7,500 grant from Bank of America, motivational and financial incentives will continue to be provided for Running Start students.

“Without Running Start, I would never have thought about college,” said Running Start Student Alisha Sanchez. “I would have graduated high school and just gotten a full-time job. Running Start made me realize that college was a real option for me, and that I could do it.”

Running Start begins as a six-week summer program that includes a college success class, financial assistance, comprehensive academic and personal counseling, financial planning assistance, peer adviser support, field study days, and personal development. On average, 95 percent of students completing Running Start enroll in the fall semester where they are provided continuous year-long support, critical guidance, and access to resources so they are able to thrive.

“The Running Start program provides the opportunity for our local high school students that haven’t thought about attending college, to not only attend, but succeed!” said EOPS Director Marsha Wright. “Through Running Start these students learn how to navigate the college system, enhance their study skills, and build their confidence. At the end of the six-week summer program, the Running Start students are well-prepared and ready to start the fall semester.”

Bank of America funding assists with the cost of textbooks, meal vouchers, and programmatic elements that underpin academic success. A longtime supporter of Santa Barbara City College and its students, Bank of America is committed to improving financial lives by bolstering SBCC programs that teach students the skills they need to succeed in life.

“SBCC’s Running Start program offers a comprehensive set of support systems and tools to students. We are grateful for Bank of America’s investment in the future of these students and our community,” said Geoff Green, CEO of the SBCC Foundation.