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Cathy Summa-Wolfe
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Communications & Community Relations

President’s Circle Breakfast Celebrates Excellence and Innovation
College of Marin EEIF Grants Promote Green Tech, Languages, ECE and more

Kentfield, Calif.—May 6, 2009—Building an electric car, encouraging high school students to pursue foreign languages here and abroad and supporting early childhood education students with much needed foundational skills are just a few of the Educational Excellence and Innovation Fund projects that will be celebrated May 6 at the fourth annual College of Marin President’s Circle breakfast.

EEIF grants are awarded to college faculty and staff to encourage the development of new programs that address emerging workforce issues, introduce new teaching methods and link closely to needs in the community. They help support instructors who “dream out loud,” according to COM Superintendent/President Frances L. White.

“These grants provide the funding necessary for faculty and staff to think outside of the box in terms of program design,” said Dr. White. “For example, giving students a first-hand experience at converting a gasoline vehicle to solar power is really an exciting curriculum innovation and a timely learning opportunity for our students.”

Since the EEIF was launched in 2005 with funds earmarked by the College of Marin Board of Trustees and through the generosity of private donors, about 30 emerging and in-demand programs have received support such as Business and Economics Learning Communities, Medical Simulation Methodology for Nursing Education, La Academia and Project Accuplacer. The annual fundraising breakfast provides an opportunity to highlight the success of recipients and encourage educational excellence.

This year’s projects include the building of an electric/solar-powered vehicle in the Auto Tech and Collision and Repair classes that will eventually be able to drive between the Kentfield and Indian Valley campuses. The refurbishing and redesign of a 1970s Volkswagen Thing into an alternative energy vehicle is not only introducing students to the latest technologies, but is paving the way for new curriculum that will be introduced in spring 2010 and boost the college’s efforts to increase its own alternative energy goals for the campus.

“There has been a revitalization of the program,” said Ron Palmer, instructor of Auto Tech and Auto Collision Repair and department chair for Career Education. “The demand is high. Everybody that comes by and looks at our project wants to get involved.”

EEIF created supportive structures for the college’s growing Early Childhood Education and Child and Adolescent Development program, which has introduced Supportive Learning Communities made up of student groups progressing toward child development permits and degrees. More general education and English as a second language courses, text book loan programs and a breakfast lecture series help support students.

The Modern Languages Department Study Abroad and International Education program has also received funding to better integrate high school students into foreign language programs and a new study abroad program that incorporates diverse student goals. A grant supported the department’s second annual international film festival earlier this year, which showed movies in French, Italian, Chinese, Spanish, Japanese and American Sign Language.

EEIF funds also supported the college’s first college information day for African American high school students, setting the foundation for an Umoja Learning Community. Umoja is the Swahili word for unity and represents a statewide movement dedicated to improve the educational and cultural college experience of African American students through mentorship, support and basic skills programs.

Funding for EEIF is provided through the generosity of community members and also through the College of Marin Board of Trustees funding priority process. The College of Marin President’s Circle is comprised of community leaders from throughout Marin. Russ Colombo, President of Bank of Marin and Diet Stroeh, CSW Stuber/Stroeh, are co-chairs. For information about becoming a member of the President’s Circle or donating to EEIF contact Barbara Garfien at (415) 717-0970.

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