students walk on campus at CSU Channel Islands in front of the Bell TowerJune 24, 2024 - After operating the California Student Opportunity and Access Program (Cal-SOAP) for nearly 14 years, CommUnify (formerly CAC/Community Action Commission) will be transferring administration of the program to California State University Channel Islands (CSUCI) effective July 1, 2024.

Cal-SOAP is dedicated to improving access to higher education for students from groups that are underrepresented in colleges. CommUnify has operated the Cal-SOAP program since 2011, employing local college students to work as tutors and peer mentors, providing advice and guidance to younger students.

The program also provides financial aid and college access workshops to help students and their families understand, apply, and enroll in college. Students are also able to participate in field trips to college campuses and receive tutoring services to help prepare them for college.

“CommUnify is so proud to have played a role in keeping the Cal-SOAP program alive in Santa Barbara,” said Patricia Keelean, CEO for CommUnify. “In 2011, when Santa Barbara City College (SBCC) made the difficult decision to close the program, CommUnify stepped up to ensure Cal-SOAP services continued for middle and high school students in south county. We are very pleased to be transitioning the program to CSUCI since the Cal-SOAP model is designed to be integrated into an institution of higher learning.”

CSUCI Assistant Vice President, Student Academic Success & Equity Initiatives, Michelle Hasendonckx underscored CSUCI’s commitment to fulfilling the mission of the Santa Barbara Cal-SOAP Consortium and to serving the Santa Barbara region's students and families.

“We are also excited for the opportunity that this transition will add to our current outreach programming in Ventura County,” Hasendonckx said. “We have a lot to learn from Cal-SOAP's long history of work and excited to align our local programming across the region.”

This is a timely transition for CSUCI, Hasendonckx added, as the University is investing even more deeply in establishing a college-going culture in the community.

“At the time we adopted Cal-SOAP in 2011, we thought we would be shepherding the program for a short period of time, until another college offered to administer the program,” Keelean said. “Now, nearly 14 years later, Cal-SOAP participants will benefit from CSUCI’s ability to leverage and integrate other existing programs and resources to better prepare them for college. It is a win-win for everyone.”

"We are thrilled to announce the expansion of the California Student Opportunity and Access Program (Cal-SOAP) to Ventura County,” said Roxana Tunc, CSUCI's Director of Admissions & Recruitment, who has represented the university for the past year as the SB Cal-SOAP Governing Board President. “Cal-SOAP's proven track record of success in Santa Barbara County will be continued, ensuring no disruption to services there. This expansion signifies our commitment to creating a level playing field for all students, regardless of background, and fostering a brighter future for the youth of both Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.”

Cal-SOAP is a statewide program that began in 1978 under the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) administration. The Santa Barbara Cal-SOAP consortium has been serving the Santa Barbara-Goleta-Carpinteria Area since 1984.  The Consortium is funded by the California Student Aid Commission and administered by CommUnify of Santa Barbara County.

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