Antioch University Santa Barbara Introduces “Keep Locals Local” Initiative

Antioch University Santa Barbara (AUSB) recently received a $5000 grant from Wells Fargo, the first in a series of grants sought to support the “Keep Locals, Local” Initiative. AUSB will award scholarships to two high school students who had participated in the Pathway to Effective Access to College (PEAC) program while attending high school in the Santa Barbara Unified School District (SBUSD). Specifically, PEAC is a pathway to support English learners in SBUSD.

According to Santa Barbara’s Director of Education Programs, Dr. Jacqueline Reid, the goal is to be able to support students who had attended the District and wish to pursue a career in education, with the intent to “Keep locals, Local” within the teacher workforce.

“The SBUSD is a Latinx dominant school district with approximately 60% across the districts,” Reid says. “The goal of the PEAC program is to assist the Latinx secondary student population–students who thrive in the classroom but also need additional support in other areas to be successful in graduating and matriculating into four-year universities.”

After graduating from high school, each PEAC scholarship recipient has the opportunity to spend three years or less, depending on if they have participated in the Dual Enrollment program through SBCC during their high school career, on a BA track at Santa Barbara City College (SBCC). The students would then transfer to Antioch’s Santa Barbara campus to complete their BA in their fourth year or sooner. The end goal, of course, would be to see these students go on to obtain a graduate degree in AUSB’s Teacher Credential program. The bigger picture? This will ensure opportunities for Latinx students to return back to the District they attended and provide a diverse multi-lingual, multi-literate perspective needed in the District teacher workforce supporting Antioch’s Santa Barbara campus’s larger initiative: “Keep Locals, Local.”

Reid points to the number of people leaving Santa Barbara to look for jobs after graduation. The key, she says, is to focus on cultivating the local talent already in Santa Barbara. “Keep Locals, Local” aims to provide people with opportunities to stay and work within the community.

“We want to develop these pathways that can build our recruitment and retention of students in different ways,” Reid says. “Ultimately, the key is to collaborate with and support our community. In the end, the best way we can do that is to keep locals, local.”

The PEAC pathway is just one of many different pathways in the works at Antioch University Santa Barbara campus. Another tenet of the initiative focuses on people who are currently working as paraeducators in the SBUSD schools.

“Key to building these important pathways are creating relationships between county offices, school districts, and AUSB by working directly with them. Direct relationships are important to our whole initiative,” Reid says. “More connections mean more ways to expand opportunities.”

Ideally, the paraeducator pathway is for people working in the profession who are interested in further education but haven’t been able to pursue a degree. The paraeducator track aims to support students as they obtain a Special Education credential or Dual Credential (Special Education and Multiple Subject Credential) at AUSB. The goal is for the people on the paraeducator track to ultimately rejoin the Santa Barbara workforce as a special education teacher.

The idea behind both pathways is the same: keep locals local by connecting them with more opportunities to succeed within the community. Both programs are in the early stages of development. With the grant from Wells Fargo and other potential grant opportunities, Reid hopes to get the PEAC pathway off the ground by the end of the year. She sees room for growth in the future.

“Ultimately, our goal is to be able to provide a pathway opportunity to anyone who is interested,” she says.

For Reid, it’s not just about retention for the university. It’s about fulfilling the social justice mission Antioch University Santa Barbara promises to its community—a mission to serve underrepresented populations and provide equitable opportunities to ensure college and career readiness. The Keep Locals Local intuitive does just that.