Umoja, (a Kiswahili word meaning unity) is a community and critical resource dedicated to enhancing the cultural and educational experiences of our California (CA) Community College students. The Umoja Community serves at risk, educationally and economically disadvantaged students, believing that when the voices and histories of students are deliberately and intentionally recognized, students develop self-efficacy and a foundation for academic success. Umoja actively promotes student success for all students, with an emphasis on African American student success, through culturally responsive curriculum and practices. Chancellors and college presidents from across the community colleges act as a consortium to advise the Umoja Governing Board on program implementation and generate ideas for securing additional funding.
The Umoja Community is officially recognized by
- CA Community College Board of Governors
- Academic Senate for California Community Colleges
- Student Senate for California Community Colleges
The Umoja Community is Partners with:
- California Tomorrow
- The CA African American Alliance of Educators
- Academy for College Excellence
- Leadership Excellence Incorporated
- The CA Community College Basic Skills Initiative
- 27 community colleges
- 27 consortium members
- 15 pilot colleges
- 16 counties
- Over 2000 students served annually
Our Programs: A Culturally Responsive Learning Community
The Umoja Community model is intentionally flexible both in order to accommodate variations at the local level and to allow colleges to grow their own expression of the Umoja Community over time. All Umoja students participate in a college orientation and assessment process, individual counseling sessions, the creation of a comprehensive Student Educational Plan, core Umoja-sponsored courses and activities, and financial aid workshops. In addition to the high level of comprehensive student services, Umoja offers a variety of professional development opportunities, including workshops, conferences, retreats and regional symposia to educate and train those interested in working in community with African American and other students.
Our Future: The Umoja Community Across California
The Umoja Community has embarked on an ambitious effort to unify and expand Umoja programs system wide to serve students and faculty members across the state. Our reception and success to date have been astounding. Through the efforts of a small, committed, group of faculty and administrators, the Umoja Community has launched additional campus based programs, expanding our ranks from 15 campus based programs in 2008 to over 30 campus based programs by Fall of 2010. Umoja is looking to the public and private sector to help develop and expand this successful program through four core objectives:
- Secure an annual operating budget of $400,000 from multiple donor sources
- Increase consortium membership to 50 colleges, reflecting approximately 5,000 student participants
- Add four additional pilot colleges annually, expanding our reach into new territories
- Develop and implement an accountability system to track Umoja’s success
Evidence of Success
Two programs represent over forty years of experience and have demonstrated their usefulness in improving the retention and success of African American students: Daraja Project (Chabot College, Hayward), and Project Success (El Camino College, Torrance). Each of these programs played a significant role in the design of the statewide model Umoja Community program.
- Daraja students (age 21 or under) successfully completed the Basic Skills to Freshman Composition sequence at a rate 19% higher than other African American students (age 21 or under) not in Daraja.
- Project Success students have persistence rates at 96% and Associate Degree averages twice that of comparable African American students not in Project Success.