Author Archives: Cari Craven

Columbia College Awarded $100,000 State Grant for Currently and Formerly Incarcerated Students Reentry Program

Columbia College has received an Intent to Award Notification for a $100,000 grant to support the expansion and improvement of the College’s programs serving currently and formerly incarcerated students. The grant is being awarded by the California Community College Chancellor’s Office (CCCCO) Division of Educational Services and has a performance period of two years, six months beginning on July 1, 2019 and ending on December 31, 2021.

Over the past four years Columbia College has worked closely with Sierra Conservation Center (SCC) to expand educational opportunities for incarcerated students. The college started with a small pilot program at SCC, providing a few face-to-face courses and academic and career counseling to 40 incarcerated students in the fall of 2015. Enrollment has since grown to approximately 300 students in the spring of 2019 at the main prison and four prison fire camps.

In addition to the fast-growing prison education program, Columbia College has also launched the Making Alternative Transformations (MAT) program, a complementary on-campus program designed to assist formerly incarcerated or justice involved students to transition to the campus and the community. The goal has been to provide high-quality higher education programs which are responsive to their unique needs, while providing additional services to support their efforts to reintegrate into their communities.

“Expanding educational opportunities to the incarcerated students is an area of focus for Columbia College. We have more than doubled the number of courses offered at Sierra Conservation Center during the last year, remarked Dr. Santanu Bandyopadhyay, President of Columbia College. “Although the growth is impressive, there is still a large segment of the incarcerated population who do not have access to education. Having access to education helps the students prepare for life once they are free and helps reduce recidivism rate. We are delighted to have this grant that will enable us to expand our services further.”

Dr. Brandon Price, Dean of Student Services, will oversee the implementation of the grant.  He explained “This grant will enable the college to better meet the needs of the justice involved students we currently serve, while also enabling us to serve additional students from inmate firefighting camps, local jails, and day reporting agencies.”  Activities to be funded by the grant include: providing faculty and staff access to training related to the specific needs of justice-involved students; expanding transition services, such as college and career counseling; and expanding peer tutoring and mentoring programs serving justice involved students at SCC and on the Columbia College campus.

This award will allow Columbia College to continue build upon the framework of their Justice-Involved Student Reentry Program and provide necessary supports which will increase opportunity and access to currently and formerly incarcerated students, increase retention rates, support strong academic performance by program participants, promote informed and appropriate pathway goals and objectives, and build long-term and sustainable transition programs for justice-involved students in the area.

For more information, contact Brandon Price, Dean of Student Services at 209-588-5142.


Columbia College Awarded $500,000 State Grant for Forestry and Natural Resources Apprenticeship Initiative

Columbia College has received formal notification of the intent to award a 33-month grant to develop another new apprenticeship program in Forestry and Natural Resources, beginning in Fall 2019. Columbia College is currently implementing hospitality and child development apprenticeships as well as a fire science pre-apprenticeship with similar grant funding and is excited about expanding opportunities to other industries that are in need of a well-trained workforce.  Applications for the existing apprenticeship programs are still being accepted.

The new award, just announced by the California Community College Chancellor’s Office (CCCCO) Workforce and Development Division, is part of the California Apprenticeship Initiative, aimed at broadening the range of apprenticeship programs available to California workers through Prop 98 funding.

“Columbia College is strategically located in the Yosemite Valley where Fire and Forestry is a way of life”, said Dr. Santanu Bandyopadhyay, President of Columbia College. “The recent increase in devastating fires across the state emphasizes the need for active forest management. With the well-established programs in Fire Science and Forestry, Columbia College is in a position to take a leadership role in Fire and Forest Management. This grant will help advance the apprenticeship programs tremendously”.

The grant will fund the development of the Columbia College Forestry and Natural Resources Apprenticeship, that will give up to 25 students the opportunity to “earn while they learn” at partnering Forestry and Natural Resource employers Greater Valley Conservation Corps and Sierra Resource Management. Designed with input from the sponsoring employers, the program is modeled on European apprenticeships, blending classroom instruction and on-the-job training in a compressed program. Apprentices will work as Forest Conservation Technicians and at the conclusion of the 18-month program will receive a Certificate of Completion from the Division of Apprenticeship Standards as well as a Skills Attainment Certificate from Columbia College in the Management and Restoration of Fire-Adapted Ecosystems. The grant funding covers all tuition, books, and related costs for apprentices while they attend Columbia College and the employers pay their wages.

The college will receive $500,000 over the two years and nine months to implement the curriculum, receive approval of the apprenticeships through the California Division of Apprentice Standards, enroll students, and launch the training at partnering work sites.

Along with the already-committed employer partners, the Tuolumne County Superintendent of Schools also expressed support.

Dr. Klaus Tenbergen, Dean of Career Technical Education and Economic Development, will oversee development and implementation of these new apprenticeships starting in late 2019. He enthuses, “Forestry and Natural Resources is one of Columbia College’s signature programs, and we are excited to expand local apprenticeship opportunities into this high-demand field. The California Apprenticeship Initiative continues to have a positive impact on our local workforce and economy.”

Apprentices will rotate through different professional areas at partnering sites over an 18-24 month period, receiving comprehensive training in a range of activities associated with each industry. Safety training and essential job skills will be incorporated throughout. Apprentices will complete a minimum of 2,000 hours of employer-paid on-the-job training, while completing 288 instructional hours as college students. If students desire, they may continue with additional coursework toward an Associate’s degree.

Additional Forestry and Natural Resource agencies and businesses who may be interested in partnering with Columbia College are encouraged to contact Dr. Tenbergen:


Dr. Klaus Tenbergen

Dean of Career Technical Education & Economic Development

Office: 209.588.5142

Columbia College Child Development Tea Party Fundraiser

The Columbia College Child Development Department and the Child Development Future Educators Club invite you to the 3rd annual Tea Party Fundraiser.  The festive family-friendly event will be held on Friday, March 15, 2019, from 3:30 – 5:30 p.m. in the Maple Building.  Students, former students, staff and faculty will serve up treats and a variety of teas to support students and student teachers in the child development field.  Funds go toward fingerprinting for students applying for teaching permits, a scholarship through the Columbia College Foundation, and student activities.

Please see our website  for more information and to purchase tickets.  Tickets are $25.00 for adults and $10.00 for children.  We hope to see you there!


For more information, contact:

Kelly Thomas, Child Care Center Manager

PH: (209) 588-5024


Come and Eat Our Homework!

 This spring, Columbia College culinary students invite the public to “come and eat their homework” at the Cellar Bistro, located on the first level of the Manzanita Building. The Cellar Bistro will be open Wednesday evenings starting at 5:00 p.m. from January 30 to April 24, 2019.  The menu will offer international cuisine specials, NY steak, pan roasted chicken breast, salmon filet, and a vegetarian option. Dinner is by reservation only, please contact the Cellar Bistro at (209) 588-5300.

Columbia College’s Symphony of the Sierra on December 15th

Columbia College will be presenting the Symphony of the Sierra Winter Concert at 3 p.m. on Saturday, December 15, 2018. The concert will be held in the Dogwood Forum at Columbia College. The repertoire provides a wonderful introduction to orchestral music for children, while being complex enough to satisfy the seasoned classical ear.

The orchestra is delighted to be performing Leroy Anderson’s The Waltzing Cat and his perennial favorite, Sleigh Bells, as well as Ralph Vaughn William’s and Winter Wonderland to celebrate the coming winter holidays.  Selections from Antonin Dvorak’s American Suite, Albert Ketelbey’s Bells Across the Meadow, and Johan Halvorsen’s Entry of the Boyards round out the program.


This free event is open to the public and family friendly.


For more information, contact:

Mic Harper

PH: 209) 770-1258


Columbia College Fire and Hospitality Programs Receive Re-Accreditation

The Career Technical Education Division at Columbia College would like to congratulate the Fire Technology and Hospitality Management programs on their recent re-accreditations through their respective oversight bodies.

The California State Fire Marshal’s Office has re-accredited the Columbia College Fire Technology Program as a Regional Training Program (ARTP) in the State Fire Training System (SFT) for a period of five years. The accreditation team visited the campus and related training facilities in July of this year, and were able to review course records, training equipment, and instructional technology that supports ongoing testing and certification for students in the program in compliance with SFT and National Fire Protection Association standards.

The Columbia College Fire Technology Program is aligned with the 2013 Fire Fighter 1 curriculum and taught by registered Instructors.  Unique to Columbia College is a fully-functioning fire station staffed by students in the program that respond to emergency calls both on- and off-campus, in a cooperative effort between Columbia College, CAL FIRE, and Tuolumne County Fire Department. Columbia College also works with the Tuolumne and Calaveras Counties Chiefs Associations, Tuolumne County and Mother Lode Interagency Training Officers Associations, the United States Forest Service, CAL FIRE, and other local agencies to inform the direction of curriculum and program development through semi-annual Advisory Committee meetings.

The Site Evaluation Team noted that Columbia College “recognizes the unique training opportunities provided students given their surroundings and understands the importance of fostering interagency partnerships. Columbia College has a strong focus on recruitment and development as exemplified in its pre-apprenticeship program preparing grade school-age students for entrance into a formal academy setting through instruction, job shadowing/ride-alongs, support and information services, and hands-on learning.”

The American Culinary Federation (ACF) Education Foundation’s Accrediting Commission has also accredited the Columbia College Hospitality Management Program until June 2022 for the following programs:

  •             Associate Degree in Hospitality Management – Culinary Arts
  •             Associate Degree in Hospitality Management – Baking and Pastry Arts
  •             Certificate of Achievement – Culinary Arts
  •             Certificate of Achievement – Baking and Pastry Arts

Accreditation through the ACF includes a thorough review of curriculum, especially lab student learning outcomes, as well as faculty training, professional development, teaching facilities, and community partnerships. The Hospitality Management Program at Columbia College opened its brand-new facilities in the fall of 2017, built with local Measure E bond funds. Program instructors meet regularly with local businesses to give input on the direction of program and curriculum development and connect graduates with employers.

Dr. Klaus Tenbergen, Dean of Career Technical Education and Economic Development, says:

“I couldn’t be more proud of the dedicated faculty who devote so much of their time and energy to making our educational offerings so relevant and timely. Chief Shane Warner, Captain Andrew Van Hoogmoed (Fire Science) Chef’s Don Dickinson and Marcus Whisenant (Hospitality Management) are to be congratulated for their hard work and efforts. We know our employers and stakeholders place a high value on these re-accreditations; it’s very nice to get this external validation as well.”

“Columbia College is committed to bringing world-class programs to the Mother Lode Region, particularly to the residents of Tuolumne and Calaveras counties”, remarked Columbia College President, Dr. Santanu Bandyopadhyay. “The reaffirmation of accreditation for these two programs demonstrate the quest for excellence of our faculty, staff and administrators. The programs prepare students in well-paying jobs in the respective fields”.


For more information, contact:

Dr. Klaus Tenbergen

Dean of Career Technical Education & Economic Development

Office: 209.588.5142