By Kathy Chouteau
Contra Costa College’s Compass Center has been honored with the “Outstanding New Project/Program” award from the Contra Costa Council on Homelessness.
The college said the honor is a testament to the college’s commitment to addressing the fundamental needs of its students. It launched in 2017 with an on-campus food pantry, grew to include a Free Breakfast program the following year and started offering a Free Lunch service in 2022 as students began their post-pandemic return to campus. Ultimately, the Compass Center offers students comprehensive support and vital referrals so that their basic needs are met and they can focus on their academics.
Outreach Program Manager Joel Nickelson-Shanks, Interim Director of EOPS and CalWorks, and Research Analyst Vanessa Mercado were collaboratively instrumental in establishing the Compass Center. Basic Needs Coordinator Hope Dixon joined the team earlier this year and has also been essential to fulfilling its mission.
The college highlighted that the center underwent a rebranding as “Compass” last summer, which included a new webpage and self-referral tool, “making it even more accessible for students in need.” “Compass” became the program’s name due to it signifying the core mission and stands for “Comprehensive Student Support.”
Future plans are also in the works for the Compass Center, spanning from creation of a dedicated on-campus resource space, to offering tailored to student feedback and developing a strategy for providing greater housing opportunities for the college’s students.
Contra Costa College said it is “immensely proud of the Compass Center’s achievements and its recognition during Homelessness Awareness Month,” and underscored its commitment to supporting its students on their academic journeys so that they don’t have weather the challenges of homelessness or basic needs insecurity alone.
Learn more about the Compass Center here.