Four individuals stand side by side smiling for a close up group photo in front of a wall that has two artwork peeking on both the left and right side
Left to right: Yasmin Frausto, Phoebe Wong, Michael Hui and Andrea Aponte. Photo Credit: Andrea Aponte.

Full Circle Moments

When Yolo Food Bank employee Andrea Aponte welcomed UC Davis student Phoebe Wong to the Yolo Food Bank as a College Corps fellow, it was a full circle moment.

Just a few months before, Aponte (B.S., human development, ‘23) was a fellow of the UC Davis College Corps program herself, volunteering at the Yolo Food Bank. Now, as a volunteer engagement coordinator for the Yolo Food Bank, Aponte sees the benefit of the College Corps program through the lens of a community partner.

“It’s nice working with people who are in the shoes you were in a year ago,” Aponte said, “because one of my biggest pros about my experience in College Corps was having mentorship, so I want to be able to give that to them.”

Helping K-12 education, food insecurity, climate change

The California College Corps program is a first-of-its-kind, statewide initiative that provides college students with the opportunity to support and learn from community-based organizations whose mission pertains to either K-12 education, food insecurity or climate action.

In addition to gaining valuable professional development experience, the students also receive financial compensation through the College Corps program for the work they do at community-based organizations.

When the program launched in 2020, UC Davis was awarded $11.4 million to lead the Sacramento Valley College Corps consortium, which included helping administer the program not just at UC Davis, but also at Sacramento State, Sacramento City College and Woodland Community College. Recently, UC Davis was awarded another $6.4 million to continue to expand the program.

Within UC Davis, the student-facing side of College Corps is administered by Student Affairs in collaboration with the Internship and Career Center and Enrollment Management. UC Davis Public Scholarship and Engagement serves the essential role of connecting community partners—such as the Yolo Food Bank—with the university.

The program has proven invaluable for both fellows and the community partners alike. Since fall of 2022, fellows have received a total of $3.2 million for education and living expenses. Likewise, between fall 2022 through the 2023 fall quarter, fellows have worked more than 110,000 hours of community service at local organizations.

An equal partnership

Yasmin Frausto, volunteer program manager for the Yolo Food Bank, said it was an easy transition for the Yolo Food Bank to incorporate the College Corp program into its operation. She noted that the culture of collaboration and opportunity to provide feedback within the program was especially helpful.

”I really appreciated the collaborations we had with other partners in the College Corps program, whether it was sharing resources or even tips and advice, that has been really helpful,” Frausto said. “It just creates a greater sense of community.”

She continued, “And with Moria [Delgado with Public Scholarship and Engagement] it very much feels like an equal partnership where there is plenty of support.”

Expanding impact

Frausto and Aponte said College Corps fellows’ efforts have allowed the food bank to expand and enrich its outreach efforts. For example, in October 2023, the Yolo Food Bank started a new program to offer alternate pick-up options for families. The organization said they wouldn’t have been able to contemplate, let alone accomplish the project, without the help of the man hours provided by the College Corps fellows. The Yolo Food Bank currently manages 150 distributions a month across a broad geographic and socioeconomically diverse area including Davis, Clarksburg, West Sacramento and Knights Landing, among others.

“We were able to push out the alternate pick-up program project because we had one of our College Corps students supporting that and we were able to get some data analysis from the forms to find out more about why people couldn’t get to a site,” Aponte said. “We wouldn’t even have a sense of any of that information if it wasn’t for the College Corps fellows’ help. They definitely help out a lot with our backend operations.”

Life lessons learned

Aponte said her College Corps experience gave her professional development skills of how to network as well as a behind-the-scenes look into what it takes to administer a new, large-scale, community-based program.

Her College Corps experience also deepened her understanding of food insecurity. Although she had written papers about and studied the topic of food insecurity in class, working at the Yolo Food Bank humanized the issue in a way that made a lasting impression on her.

“Early on I came to realize, you don’t know a person’s story,” she said. “We don’t ask questions; we are just here to give food to people regardless of their circumstance. It’s not our place to judge; it’s our place to be there for our community and serve where needed.”

Aponte added that courses she took through the Sacramento Valley College Corps also illuminated the importance of being of service to others rather than helping.

“It was more about, ‘I see you as a neighbor. I have a piece of advice and you have a bit of information for me, then we can be of service to each other,’” she said. “So it definitely plays into this idea of being on an equal playing field.”

Wong’s full circle moment

Likewise, Wong said she wanted to join the College Corps program as part of the second cohort to engage with her community, as well as help the underserved in the Davis area. The third-year biochemistry and molecular biology major said helping the underserved is important to her because she grew up in an immigrant community in east Los Angeles.

“I chose to work in food insecurity because when I was young my parents couldn’t afford healthy food and groceries around my area very much, so they would go to food banks to get food. So food banks have a special meaning to my heart,” she said, adding that the financial assistance from College Corps is invaluable as she supports herself through school.

She continued, “Before I was the recipient and now I’m the volunteer giving back to the community. So it’s a whole 180 and is really satisfying to see.”

Value of mentorship

Frausto said an unexpected benefit of being a community partner in the College Corps program has been mentoring the fellows and illuminating the possibility of a career in the nonprofit sector when they possibly hadn’t considered it before.

“I’d say a big perk of this program is bringing in the new generation of nonprofit leaders,” Frausto said. “It’s definitely an inspiring reason to be a part of the program.”

The idea seems to have worked on Aponte.

“I’m just really thankful that even after college,” Aponte said, “I’m able to give back to my community.”



UC Davis College Corps offers an unparalleled opportunity for students to make a meaningful impact in their communities while also advancing their academic and professional goals. Through College Corps, students have the opportunity to serve various nonprofit organizations, addressing critical issues in three key areas: 

  • K-12 education
  • Climate action 
  • Food insecurity


With the potential to earn up to $10,000 in financial support, including a living allowance and academic credit, participating students not only contribute to their communities but also receive tangible benefits to support their academic journey while gaining real-world job experience and transferable skills. College Corps broadens access to beyond-the-classroom learning for students from groups traditionally excluded from such opportunities, including low-income, first-generation and undocumented students. UC Davis students may apply through June 14.


By collaborating with College Corps, community organizations can amplify their impact and address inequities more effectively. For community organizations, College Corps provides committed volunteers who help meet service requirements and build organizational capacity. The program is inclusive, welcoming all students regardless of AB540/documentation status. UC Davis College Corps Fellows provided more than 65,000 hours of community service in year one and are on track to serve more than 100,000 hours in year two. Host site applications are accepted annually each spring.

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