The Community Fellows Initiative is a Gevirtz School strategic effort – in partnership with stakeholder community organizations – to grow a diverse, local education workforce. We recruit graduate students from Santa Barbara and neighboring regions, provide them with full fellowships to support access to high quality graduate education and professional preparation, and facilitate the fellows’ placements into jobs in our regions’ schools, school districts, and youth serving organizations upon completion of their graduate degrees. By mitigating financial and professional hurdles, we are able to recruit Community Fellows, and enable people of diverse backgrounds to stay in (or return to) our local community and serve a population of students with which they have common ground, and therefore, assisting our community in their goal to diversify the workforce to better serve the student population.

By placing these highly trained educational professionals in their home communities, this initiative aims to create a pipeline for underserved members of our community to fulfill their passion to serve in the education workforce and increases the odds that the fellows will be enmeshed in personal and professional networks that can help guard against the early career challenges of entering the education workforce.

Beginning with the 2019-20 academic year, the Gevirtz School piloted the Community Fellows Initiative in the Teacher Education Program with Santa Barbara Unified School District. As part of this fellowship package, SBUSD has agreed to offer the Community Fellows first right of refusal on appropriate teaching job openings after they have successfully completed their teaching credentials.  Thus far, the Fellows have been supported through a few key philanthropic partners, each of which has requested slightly different fellowship selection criteria/eligibility requirements.  However, in many cases, there is a selection preference for candidates who previously participated in SBUSD’s PEAC program (Program for Effective Access to College), as the PEAC program supports the same demographic of students that the Gevirtz School is looking to recruit as students and that SBUSD is looking to recruit as teachers.  The Gevirtz School has been working hand-in-hand with SBUSD, PEAC, and our key funding partners to ensure that this pilot is successful.

This video features the first cohort of the PEAC Community Fellowship consisting of Evely Jimenez, Alejandrina Lorenzano, Maria Lorenzano, and Monica Rojas, all currently working at SBUSD schools (the Lorenzano sisters are pictured above):