What is CalWORKs Student Voices?


Have you ever walked into a room where you were different from everyone else? Have you ever done something you were afraid to do, something people had told you you would fail at? Did you ever choose the long, difficult road, instead of the shorter, faster, easier one, because you knew the long road would take you further? Have you ever done a courageous thing because your children were watching? 

Every day, community college CalWORKs students walk into classrooms where they are different from everyone else. CalWORKs students are older, more impoverished, and have more responsibilities than other college students. 

Every day, community college CalWORKs students, who have been told by society they were failures, succeed in school. They pass classes, they get “A”s, they transfer to prestigious four-year colleges, and they embark on successful careers in the workforce.

Every day, community college CalWORKs students choose the long road of education. They go to college all day, take care of their kids all evening, then stay up all night studying. Community College for CalWORKs students is a long and grueling journey, but CalWORKs students are following a path from welfare to education to career. They are making the decision to invest now in a prosperous future for their families. 

Every year, community college CalWORKs students stand on stages in caps and gowns, proudly holding diplomas, while their children watch from the audience. Those children grow up knowing that college is for them. They can graduate like their mom and their dad.

Why would someone who is struggling just to get by decide to go to college? There must be an easier way to meet the participation requirements of California’s welfare-to-work program. There are easier ways, but there is no better one. College graduates earn more money, are more likely to move up the socioeconomic ladder, and are less likely to rely on public assistance. 

The CalWORKs Association is the champion of community college CalWORKs students. We promote statewide collaboration with education, welfare, and policy leaders. We influence local, state, and national policy. We provide professional development to community college CalWORKs staff. We are lifting California families out of poverty through education.  

CalWORKs students graduate, transfer, and get jobs every year, but Portraits of Success is also about another kind of success: the success that comes from not giving up; from refusing the naysayers; from waking up exhausted from studying all night and still going to school in the morning; the success that is believing in yourself for the sake of your children. 

Read our CalWORKs students’ stories. Become their advocates. Share their success. Be inspired. Help us lift up families.