WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-5) today announced a $2,371,715 High School Equivalency Program grant for Santa Rosa Junior College. The funding made available by this grant will be used to provide children of migratory and seasonal farmworkers the opportunity to complete high school equivalency and continue on to higher education.
Under the High School Equivalency Program (HEP), migratory and seasonal farmworkers (or children of such workers) who are 16 years of age and older and not currently enrolled in school are given the opportunity to obtain the equivalent of a high school diploma and, subsequently, to gain employment or begin postsecondary education or training.
"HEP opens the door of opportunity and allows students to achieve goals they may not have considered if it were not for this program,” said Rep. Thompson. "I am proud to have helped secure these federal funds, which will help make sure all students have access to a quality education.”
Through HEP, students receive instruction in English or Spanish to prepare them to complete the High School Equivalency exam. The program also provides tutoring, books, support services, and assistance seeking post-secondary education, improved employment or to enter the military.
“We’re so grateful to receive this grant, which will help so many future students who have faced great challenges. The HEP grant is truly transformational, supporting education for migrant farmworkers and their children so that they can achieve a better life. We greatly appreciate Congressman Mike Thompson’s support,” said Dr. Frank Chong, Santa Rosa Junior College Superintendent and President.
Sonoma and Napa counties together account for 10 percent of the migrant students in California. In 2015, only 63 percent of Sonoma County migrant high school seniors graduated, compared to the state average of 81 percent. SRJC’s HEP program aims to close this gap, providing a bridge to educational opportunities and improved socio-economic status for migrant students.
“The HEP program does more than provide a path to education for the student; it has a multi-generational impact on the families of the HEP student. Inspired by the success of one family member, other family members have enrolled and the entire family becomes a HEP success story,” said Catherine Prince, HEP Director at Santa Rosa Junior College. “This year, one of our most inspirational graduates was a woman in her 50’s who has worked in the fields all her life. This spring, she not only completed her HSE but also completed a certificate in Floristry from SRJC. Seeing her succeed has inspired many of our younger students to push hard to fulfill their dreams. We are inspired daily by our students, their drive and fortitude and celebrate their success as they move forward.”
Funded by the US Department of Education’s Office of Migrant Education, the HEP program is a national program working specifically with seasonal and migrant farmworkers and their families.