Dream Scholarship Funds Tripled, Lunch Vouchers and Documentary Funding Approved In A.S. Meeting.

On Monday the Associated Students approved $30,000 for the Dream Scholarship, and $15,274 to produce a documentary. They also approved the implementation of a new $5,000 lunch voucher program.

Initially, the plan was to approve restoring funding to the scholarship, which serves AB-540 students on campus. After much consideration of scholarship proposals that they may receive by Wednesday, the final day to send proposals, and whether other scholarships could still be funded if they did receive more proposals, A.S. agreed to triple its funding.

AB-540 allows students who don’t have legal status but have attended high school for three years and graduated to attend a community college or a school within the CSU or UC systems as residents, greatly reducing their cost of education.

In 2011, AB-540 students were allowed to receive aid from the state, which excludes federal grants but includes scholarships. There are roughly 1,000 AB-540 students on campus that this Dream Scholarship would serve.

Patti Del Valle of the Adelante Program and former Dream Scholarship winner Cynthia Magaña presented the item. “Paying for books, transportation, food, and rent was quite a burden,” said Magaña, who had to resign her position on the board at one point to support her family.

According to Del Valle, roughly 50 students applied last year and received awards from $500 to $1,000.

“We want more to apply and we want to get the word out because a lot of times students still think they’re not eligible to even get scholarships here,” said Del Valle.

A.S. also approved $15,274 in funding for equipment, insurance, and location usage to film a documentary on immigration. Proposed by Director of Student Assistance Hamza Sabri, the goal of the documentary is to contribute to the ongoing discussion about immigration and race in America by providing an international perspective.

“I’ve seen a lot of documentaries,” said Sabri during the meeting. “Most perspectives are anti-immigraton or the American perspective, per se.” Sabri plans to hire professionals to shoot the piece and handed out film finance packages to the other A.S. board members.

A need-based food voucher program was also approved. The effort to implement it had been going on since winter semester, and it was originally supposed to be a food pantry where students could take 10 items at a time. The trouble with this original idea was that there was no space on campus for a full pantry.

“The food pantry is necessary because we have more than 500 homeless students on campus, a lot of AB-540 students who can’t get any funding, international students who have trouble getting jobs,” said A.S. President Ali Khan. He and Sabri, in collaboration with Associate Dean of Student Life Sonali Bridges, Vice President of Student Affairs Mike Tuitasi, campus eateries Eat Street and Campus Kitchen, and campus financial aid offices, worked to make the project possible.

“Food pantries around the LACCD have clothes, food, and other products. It’s not just food,” said Khan. He said the vouchers would allow A.S. to offer students direct assistance like other local community colleges. However, when they first roll out, students will only be able to use them on the main campus.

The vouchers are valued at either $5 or $10 a piece for use at on-campus eateries, which will return the vouchers to A.S. for reimbursement on Fridays. Students can receive a maximum of two vouchers per week. Each voucher will have a serial number and will be handed out in the A.S. office when eligible students present their student identification cards.

Initially, there will be 500 vouchers for eligible students to receive until next year, when the new A.S. Board can decide whether or not to continue the program. Eligible students will ultimately be confirmed when A.S. receives a list of eligible students from the EOPS office. The funding or number of vouchers can be increased according to demand.