Allocation of grant funds raises questions
May 11, 2010
Filed under News
Controversy has arisen from the allocation of grant funds awarded by the Walmart Foundation to the San Diego Community College District to support new and existing programs for student veterans.
Mesa College augmented the salary of Oswaldo Amezcua, a newly hired counselor in the Veterans Office, as well as supporting Veteran’s Day activities on campus.
“[Amezcua] provides academic and education planning, career counseling and drop-in services in the Counseling Center and Veteran’s Office for student veterans,” said Dean of Student Development and Matriculation, Joi Blake. “He assists with schedule adjustments to education plans to assist in the processing of certifications.”
Josh Ray, Mesa ASG Senator, California State Director of Student Veterans of America and inaugural member of the Veterans Advisory Committee (VAC) said that since Amezcua is available to all students and not exclusively to veterans, it is “.a direct misappropriation of the funds in my eyes. When you get a grant for something specific, it has to go toward that.”
Ray has attended every meeting of the VAC, which is supposed to convene once a month, since its establishment in June of 2009. Since hearing about the grant Ray has attempted to work with faculty on the VAC to create scholarships for veterans.
“The committee has not met this semester due to the move of the departments to the modular village and the workload in the Veterans Office,” said Blake. “Direct student service has been our priority this semester.”
Barbara Kavalier, Vice President of Student Services, organized a meeting in April to discuss campus life services and communiqués to student veterans.
According to Ray, when Blake was asked at their April meeting if it was the VAC’s responsibility to distribute the Walmart grant, she replied, “I’m the administrator that allocates that money.”
Ray has asked the administration for a copy of the grant to discern if any conditions had been violated. However, he has not been furnished that document.
“I have asked the district to provide the information regarding grant specifics,” said Blake. “I am awaiting a response.”??
Dr. Lisa Curtin, SDCCD Executive Director of Government and Military Programs, divided the grant between Mesa College, Miramar College, and the district’s Military and Government Education and Training program, which services 147,000 military personnel on 24 military bases in 15 states.
The Walmart Foundation announced their $3.6 million donation to 12 nationwide organizations that provide educational assistance for veterans in celebration of Veterans Day 2008. ??SDCCD and San Diego State University each received $100,000 in grant money in the spring of 2009. Mesa received approximately $25,000.