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May 4, 2015

Season Where Students Shine

Our Student of Distinction Awards have officially kicked off the season of student celebrations. We honored 20 SODA winners whose majors range from biology to political science. We had students who aspire to elementary school teachers and others who will photograph the stars for Vogue magazine. Among these award-winning students are six students who are part of the MESA program, eight students who are part of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society, and three who are members of both prestigious programs.

Their scholarships are largely funded by the Southwestern College Education Foundation. Additionally, a total of 57 people or organizations provided more than $134,000 in student scholarships because they care about the promise each of our students possess. We thank our community for their generosity each year.


Our 2015 SODA winners
Our 2015 SODA winners

On Friday evening, we celebrated our math, science and engineering students as well as our journalism students during their annual recognition events. More than two dozen students were recognized in the two celebrations. Also receiving special awards at the Celebration of The Sun gala were Southwestern College graduates who are now working in the professional media as well Governing Board President Norma Hernandez, Professor Angie Stuart and Performing Arts Coordinator Silvia Lugo. President Hernandez received the First Amendment award, Professor Stuart received the Phillip Lopez Courage of the Lion Award and Silvia Lugo received the Champion of Journalism Students award. It was a special night for our students and all those in attendance at both events.

Honoring our Faculty Leaders

Congratulations to our fabulous faculty leaders! Before the April Governing Board meeting, we recognized the four recipients of this year’s Faculty Recognition Awards. Thank you to each of the winners for continuing to advance our students’ first efforts.

  • Full Time Faculty Excellence: Maria E. Martinez Sanabria
  • Part Time Faculty Excellence: Jeff Bucholtz
  • Full Time Professional Leadership: Randy Beach
  • Part Time Professional Leadership: Diana De la Torre

Faculty Awards Winners
Pictured (L-R): Academic Senate President Patricia Flores-Charter, myself, Governing Board President Norma Hernandez, Maria E. Martinez-Sanabria, Randy Beach, Diana De la Torre, Governing Board Vice President Nora Vargas, Governing Board Member Humberto Peraza, Governing Board Member Griselda Delgado. (not pictured: Jeff Bucholtz, Governing Board Member Tim Nader, Student Trustee Sayaka Ridley)

Valuing Equity and Inclusion

When the Sun printed a copy of a letter signed by members of our campus alleging racism and harassment, it provided an opportunity to re-commit ourselves to building a community of inclusion, respect and equity. While we celebrate our diversity through guest speakers on campus—including Dr. Jeff Duncan-Andrade at our spring opening day—and other activities throughout the year, we understand we must work daily to ensure a workplace free of discrimination and harassment.

If we are to provide an environment of academic excellence, each of our employees must feel comfortable in their workplace. We are committed to investigating each and every complaint brought to us. The custodians’ allegations—some of which dated to 2009—were investigated at that time, and are being reinvestigated now. It is understandable that people will have questions and concerns during the investigative process. We ask that people not rush to judgment based upon an incomplete picture.

I understand this lack of information can create a sense of mistrust. I commit to you that we will be fair and thorough in this investigation, because we are committed to a workplace free of discrimination or harassment.

To help guide us all through this commitment, a Diversity and Equity Committee co-chaired by Vice President of Employee Services John Clark and Staff Development Coordinator Janelle Williams will work to integrate our values of respect, equity, diversity and inclusion into everything we do. I am pleased to report that the Shared Consultation Council voted last month to make the committee a standing committee of the SCC. Using a framework that encompasses training, recruitment and hiring and decision making, the committee will solicit ideas that make all of us feel included. If you have ideas for any of the objectives on the framework, please bring them forward to John, Janelle or your SCC representative. SCC will vote discuss and vote on the framework at the May 20 meeting.

It is only working together and trusting each of our best intentions that we become a stronger college for our students.

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April 20, 2015

Accreditation Alert

We begin our countdown to the accreditation team’s visit to Southwestern College next fall by launching and rolling out our Self Evaluation Report (SER).

Tomorrow, we will kick off the review of the report with a specific emphasis on what we have done on our 10 Actionable Improvement Plans and where we still need to go.  To see the draft, click on the Accreditation page on the website. Please join us in Room 214 at 3 p.m. tomorrow.

Thursday, we’ll release the Self Evaluation Report on the webpage and in SharePoint. We’re planning a series of workshops Thursday that will review Standards IIA, IIB and IIC. You’re invited to attend sessions to review those sections beginning at 11 a.m. Please look out for global emails announcing the room locations.

Then we’ll wrap up the week with a review of Standards IIA, IIB and the technology advancements in IIIC. We expect to have the meeting at 3 p.m. on Friday. Again, please look out for global emails announcing the room locations.

Building an Inclusive College and Working Environment

Today we welcome members of our college and neighboring community to Southwestern College for the kick off of a new Strategic Planning cycle. This dialogue is a perfect backdrop to renewed conversations we are having to build an inclusive college and working environment among our faculty, staff and students.

Over the last month, an ad hoc committee has met twice to establish a framework to help guide us all in creating a systemic integration of values that support student success at Southwestern College. Those values are respect, equity, diversity and inclusion. The result of the meetings is a four-pronged approach to build this environment. To see the framework, click here

The framework is now being circulated among college constituency groups for feedback and input at the April 22 and 29 SCC meetings.

Thank you for joining me on this journey as we continue to serve our students and each other.

Compressed Calendar Begins in Fall

To continue our theme of students’ first, we are ready to begin our compressed calendar schedule in the fall. We’ll offer classes that begin as early at 7 a.m. and others that end as late as 10 p.m. to better serve the wide-ranging needs of our students.

The Most Exciting Time of Year

The celebration season begins this week with the Student of Distinction and Scholarship Awards Ceremony. On Wednesday, we’ll recognize 20 SODA winners—students who represent the passion and persistence to achieve great things.

Thanks to the Southwestern College Education Foundation, our SODA winners are each receiving $875 to assist them in their continued studies.  In total, we’ll be distributing more than $134,000 in scholarships to 137 students.

Journalism Program’s Continued Record of Excellence

Congratulations to Dr. Max Branscomb and his talented student journalists for another excellent showing at the Journalism Association of Community Colleges convention.

The Sun earned its 14th consecutive Pacesetter Award and all three student journalism platforms—The Sun, El Sol magazine and theswcsun.com were presented General Excellence awards. Southwestern College Sun students earned 30 team and individual awards, the most of any California community college.

This caps an excellent year of awards by Sun students. You make us all very proud.

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April 14, 2015

Coffee Chat This Thursday in Otay Mesa
This month’s coffee chat goes on the road with a meeting at the Higher Education Center at Otay Mesa. I hope you can join me on Thursday, April 16 from 10 – 11 a.m. in Room 4121. Great ideas come from these smaller group discussions.

Open Hours This Friday
Don’t have a chance to make it to the coffee chat on Thursday? Please feel free to set up a time to meet with me one-on-one during Open Hours on Friday, April 17 from 9 – 10:30 a.m. You can sign up for 15-minute private meetings by going to the webpage and filling out the form.

Good News in April Paychecks
Thanks to the unanimous vote by the Governing Board in March, all employees will receive a 2% pay increase—retro to July 1—effective this month. You will see the bump in your April paychecks.

Additionally on the Governing Board agenda tomorrow are two resolutions offering early retirement incentives for classified and academic employees. If approved, we will begin sending out additional information so employees can make an informed decision.

Open Arms for Guardian Scholars, Community

The beauty and generosity of Southwestern College was on full display for our community before spring break when we hosted our 11th annual Cesar Chavez Scholarship Breakfast and a special college and career day for San Diego County’s Foster Youth.

A sold-out crowd listened to the inspiring stories of the five students who received scholarships this year. They spoke of their academic and economic struggles and how the $1,000 scholarships would allow them to stay in school and pursue their dreams. These five students were reflected in the struggle and ultimate success of our keynote speaker—Dr. Olivia Graeve.

Dr. Graeve, who is now an associate professor of Materials Science and Engineering at UCSD, blazed the trail for the four siblings who followed her to Southwestern College. She spoke of social justice, the impact of the faculty and staff at Southwestern College who aided her journey and the importance of seeking out students who had her same goals.


Student Scholarship winners
Scholarship Winners pose with breakfast organizers.

Later that morning, we welcomed 100 foster youth and their advocates for a half-day session on college and careers. This student population is among the most at-risk, and we have knitted together our student support services with those San Diego County resources.

These Guardian Scholars participated in workshops on how to apply for college and financial aid. They explored the different academic programs we offer, and they learned about the college leadership opportunities awaiting them here.

We received many positive comments, and those in attendance felt welcomed and supported. Thank you to the committee with members from all across the college—Counseling, EOPS, CalWORKS, Child Development Center, Communications and Government Relations, Financial Aid, Food Services, Outreach and the Transfer Center. I look forward to our next event. 

Counselor Kimi Rodriguez-McSwain address students
Counselor Kimi Rodriguez-McSwain welcomes Guardian Scholars

Strategic Plan Kick-Off
We are beginning the next cycle of our Strategic Plan, and we’re hoping you will participate.

The Office of Institutional Effectiveness is hosting a community kick off on Monday, April 20 from 8:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. We have invited representatives from each of our college constituency groups, as well as members of our feeder school districts, city government and community organizations.

We will also host two college-wide town hall forums—Thursday, April 30 from 6-8 p.m. and Thursday, May 14 from 2-4 p.m. Be on the lookout for the global emails announcing the town hall forums.

Recognizing the Employee of the Quarter
Recognized as the Employee of the Quarter for April through June is Maria Beltran, the Education Center Coordinator for the Higher Education Center in Otay Mesa. As cited in her nomination, Maria exhibits an overall superior work ethic and she has an exceptional spirit of service.
Whether Maria is welcoming faculty to the Center or coordinating events the Center hosts in partnership with the Otay Mesa Chamber of Commerce, she is dependable, professional and eager to contribute to the success of the Center and Southwestern College.

Students, faculty and staff are comfortable seeking support from Maria because of her patience and willingness to provide her best assistance/advice.

The next time you are visiting Otay Mesa, be sure to congratulate Maria for a job well done.

Maria Beltran accepts EOQ award
Maria Beltran, Education Center Coordinator at the Higher Education Center in Otay Mesa, accepts her award as Employee of the Quarter.

 

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March 26, 2015

Living the Theme of Opening Day

Dr. Jeff Duncan-AndradeMany employees have expressed how inspired they were by our Spring Opening Day speaker, Dr. Jeff Duncan-Andrade. For those of you who have participated in a number of follow-up Staff Development activities since January, you have seen that passion put into practice.

Whether you attended one of the films in the ongoing documentary series, or listened to our own experts in multiculturalism through Staff Development’s “Turning Points Series” or heard the stories of modern poets MK Asante and Pedro Enriquez, our college community has been keeping the spirit of inclusivity alive.

These activities have joined our longstanding traditions of African-American History Month and our Cesar Chavez Breakfast.

Staff Development ProgramThank you to Janelle Williams, Patricia Hinck and Andre Ortiz for building such a strong program of staff development this semester, including customer service training for all divisions, schools and departments. Thank you to the host of presenters in the Staff Development series and special events in February and March. The trainings and celebrations reflect the discussion by Shared Consultation Council members to embrace our Opening Day theme of “We Cultivate Inclusion,” and support our commitment to a Students’ First culture.

Campus Climate Survey

If you haven’t had the chance to complete the Campus Climate Survey, I encourage you to do so before the end of the day tomorrow.

This is the second year of the Ruffalo Noel Levitz survey. The average completion time is 15 to 20 minutes, shorter than our previous surveys.

Responses are reported in aggregate form only and are completely anonymous. I, and our Governing Board, take the results of the survey seriously and use them for continuous improvement throughout the college.

Click here to link directly to the survey.

Arts & Comm gala
Celebrating the Arts: Governing Board President Norma L. Hernandez accepts a proclamation from Chula Vista Mayor Mary Casillas Salas and Deputy Mayor Pamela Bensoussan at the Fall in Love with the Arts gala last month. Gala Emcee Eric Maag looks on.

I wish you a restful spring break and look forward to the upcoming activities celebrating our students as we head toward commencement.

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 March 9, 2015

Open Hours This Friday

We’re almost halfway through the semester, and I’d like to hear how things are going.

I am hosting Open Hours on Friday from 8:30 – 10 a.m. The office hours are your opportunity to meet one-on-one with me. You can sign up for 15-minute appointments on the website at: www.swccd.edu/openhours

I look forward to hearing your ideas for continuous improvement of our great college.

Governing Board Meeting and Listening Tour This Wednesday

This month’s Governing Board meeting will be held at the Higher Education Center in Otay Mesa. Before the meeting begins, you are invited to join Trustees Norma Hernandez and Tim Nader as they tour the EMT/Paramedic and Fire Sciences program. The tour and information session will begin in HECOM Room 4409 at 4:30 p.m.

The Governing Board meeting is expected to begin at 7 p.m.

Each One, Reach One

Our response from faculty and staff to mentor first-year students has been overwhelming—even without a big advertising effort. As of last week, we have had 38 Southwestern College employees volunteer to be mentors. Thank you for your enthusiasm to make a difference in a student’s academic career.

Now we need students to mentor. We’ll be working over the next couple weeks to reach out to students to participate. Our goal is to have 100 students to pilot the program this semester. We’d like a combination of students, including the First-Year Experience students in the Puertas al Futuro program, veterans, foster youth and students on academic probation.

The mentor program will include getting to know the students’ goals better and connecting them with the many support services and resources we have available. The program will also include fun, social activities.

If you know a student who you think would benefit from this program, please contact VPAA Kathy Tyner or Dr. Chris Hayashi. Or if you would like to mentor a student, you can apply at www.swccd.edu/reach To get an idea of the program, go to www.swccd.edu/fye on the website.

 

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Feb. 24, 2015

Cross-Border Education Opportunities Coming to Fruition

Increasing the opportunities for students on both sides of the border to study abroad has been one of my long-term goals. I’m pleased to report that those opportunities are becoming a reality.

Last week, the Governing Board voted unanimously to approve Memoranda of Understanding with Centro de Enseñanza Técnica Y Superior Universidad, México (CETYS) and Universidad Tecnológica de Tijuana, México (UTT) to create and expand cross-border programs. Under the agreements, students from Southwestern College and the two Tijuana universities can attend classes at both colleges without a delay in their studies. Additionally, students from the two Tijuana universities could attend Southwestern College at the district resident price of $46 per unit.

The agreements are the result of a year of increased discussion among Southwestern College leaders and our colleagues at CETYS and UTT. We have visited both campuses and are excited about the potential to articulate some of our career technical, logistics, business and engineering courses to allow a seamless transition among the three institutions. Thanks to Dr. Carla Kirkwood, our efforts have been focused and fruitful.

The timing of the Governing Board’s approval was perfect as I was able to announce the agreements at the University Presidents’ Summit hosted by the Consuls General from Mexico and the United States last week. The purpose of the summit held Thursday was to address the barriers for students to access higher education on each side of the border and to launch the CaliBaja Consortium for Higher Education.

Under the context of meeting the 100,000 Strong in the Americas initiative, U.S. Consul General in Tijuana, Andrew S. E. Erickson, and the Mexican Consul General in San Diego, Remedios Gomez Arnau, have a goal to make the California/Baja California region a leader in cross-border education by the year 2020. The discussion at the Summit focused on key areas: language acquisition; learning for regional competitiveness; women and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM); and funding. 

In facilitating the language acquisition small group discussion, I was able to share our program in child development that helps students become fluent in English in four semesters. I explained that this model could be used for other academic content areas.

The day-long summit gave all of us an opportunity to deepen our discussions with our colleagues on both sides of the border. I look forward to the work ahead.

L-R: U.S. Consul General in Tijuana Andrew Erickson, Mexican Consul General in San Diego Remedios Gomez Arnau, CETYS Rector Dr. Fernando León Garcia, UC San Diego Chancellor Dr. Pradeep Khosla, UABC R
L-R: U.S. Consul General in Tijuana Andrew Erickson, Mexican Consul General in San Diego Remedios Gomez Arnau, CETYS Rector Dr. Fernando León Garcia, UC San Diego Chancellor Dr. Pradeep Khosla, UABC Rector Dr. Juan Manuel Ocegueda, myself, National University President Dr. Michael R. Cunningham and Mexican Foreign Ministry Proyecta 100,000 Coordinator Dr. Martha Navarro.

 

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February 18, 2015

Lobbying for Southwestern College Students at the Federal Level

Getting more federal money in the hands of our students and requesting additional funding to support our student veterans were high on the list of our lobbying requests last week in Washington, D.C.

Trustee Humberto Peraza, Public Information and Government Relations Officer Lillian Leopold and I met with our congressional and senate delegations as part of Association of Community College Trustees conference. During the four-day visit, we learned about new federal accountability proposals for community colleges, the funding prospects in the new federal budget and the strong support many legislators have for the community college mission.

As expected, there was still much buzz about President Obama’s State of the Union address that proposed two free years of community college for all. Not surprisingly, conference attendees were excited, but realistic about the president’s proposal. We all agreed that it was a great conversation starter, but much hard work still lies ahead.

Of more immediate attention is the federal proposal to increase accountability. The national “report card” would review each college in three areas: Access, Affordability and Outcome. As it currently stands, very few California community colleges would fare well in the new report card because of the large percentage of Board of Governor (BOG) fee waivers granted to our state’s community college students, coupled with the high cost of living. The federal report card would also rely on IPEDs data, which only counts first-time, full-time college students—leaving a majority of our students not captured in the data.

In our conversations with legislators, we encouraged them to use the California Scorecard as a model for accountability. Our scorecard outlines the outcomes for students who come to us college-prepared and those who don’t.

Additionally, we asked our legislators to restore eligibility for the year-round Pell Grant, allowing our students to receive federal financial aid to take courses in the summer, and to extend the time limit for Pell Grant eligibility to 14 semesters. We asked that they pass the federal Dream Act and increase funding for Hispanic-Serving Institutions. Finally we asked for Congress to fund the Centers for Excellence for Veteran Success when they reauthorize the new Higher Education Act. The Centers for Excellence funding would allow Southwestern College to compete for grants that would help augment our services for our student veterans.

Coupled with our legislative advocacy last month in Sacramento, this conference gave us direct access to our lawmakers and personalized for them the results of legislation with our students.

Association of Community College Trustees conference
Congressman Juan Vargas (center) meets with San Diego-area community college representatives. L-R: SWC Trustee Humberto Peraza, SDCC Trustee Bernie Rhinerson, Vargas, myself, Palomar CC Trustee Mark Evilsizer.

Association of Community College Trustees conference
San Diego-area community college representatives meet with Congressman Scott Peters. L-R: Palomar CC Trustee Mark Evilsizer, SDCC Trustee Bernie Rhinerson, Peters, SWC Trustee Humberto Peraza.

 

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February 3, 2015

Coffee Chat this Thursday—Meet Our New Chief Information Systems Officer

Have you noticed that WiFi strength is being boosted throughout the college district? Do you have questions and concerns about our technology resources? Please join me and our new Chief Information Systems Officer Dan Borges this Thursday at my next Coffee Chat.

We’ll be in Student Union East on Thursday, Feb. 5 from 10 – 11 a.m.

Each One, Reach One

This semester’s theme of “We Cultivate” provides so many possibilities for making stronger connections with each other and with our students. If you recall from your Opening Day Agenda and Schedule of Activities, the flower pot on the cover illustrated cultivating Success, Learning, Hope and Connections, among other things.

How do we turn those words into action for all of us? VPAA Kathy Tyner and faculty leaders, including Chair of Chairs Dr. Chris Hayashi, are promoting a mentoring opportunity: Each One, Reach One.

The concept is to call five students—or even one student—and ask them how their semester is going. You may be thinking, “Well, I don’t know what to say to a student.” VPAA Tyner and her team are creating a one-page sheet with ideas of what to chat about. Some faculty may even feel more comfortable calling students they may have had last semester and telling them how much they enjoyed having them in class and asking them how they are doing this semester.

This effort is completely voluntary, but if you’re looking for a way to help our students connect with a caring adult, here’s your chance. For more information, please call VPAA Tyner’s office at 482-6338 or email her at ktyner@swccd.edu

Handy Student Resource Guides

To continue the theme of making connections, we have posted a Student Resource Guide on the website to outline the hours of operation of the library, student union, math center, Academic Success Center and other places to study. The guide also includes where computers and photocopiers are located on campus and at the Higher Education Centers. All students received the information in an email, but for your reference as well, you can find the information at www.swccd.edu/srg

We’ve also created a simple trifold brochure that we will be distributing to all employees. The brochure includes the most popular student services departments and a list of important dates for Spring Semester. Look for it in your mailbox later this week. You can also access the brochure online at the same webpage listed above.

Fall in Love with the Arts

Have you purchased your ticket to the School of Arts and Communication gala? Today is the last day to receive the discounted ticket price of $85.

The inaugural gala on Saturday, Feb. 28, will showcase student work and entertainment, with the goal of raising funds for student scholarships. The gala includes dinner, wine tasting, a silent auction and dancing at the Mission Valley Hilton. To purchase your ticket, please contact Dean Dr. Donna Arnold, at 482-6441.

Faculty Hiring Priority memo

We have finalized the Faculty Hiring Priority process, and I’m happy to announce that we will be hiring eight new faculty—including full-time faculty in areas that have lacked a full-time member for several years.

We will be hiring faculty in the following areas:

  1. ADN Nursing
  2. Landscape & Nursery Technology
  3. English
  4. Math
  5. Business/OIS
  6. Architecture
  7. Biology/Allied Health
  8. Accounting

In the memo I emailed to all faculty and administrators Friday, I hope to have cleared up a couple misconceptions about the process. As explained in the memo, the primary determining factor for where we draw the line is the ongoing general fund dollars available. Additionally, hiring the SSSP-funded counselors did not reduce the number of FHP positions funded.

Thank you to all the members of the FHP committee for their hard work. If you have additional questions about the FHP process, please contact Academic Senate President Patti Flores-Charter or VPAA Kathy Tyner, who both co-chair the FHP committee.

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January 10, 2015

Commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

A group of Southwestern College students and staff celebrated the life and teachings of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., yesterday. Our contingent marched in the 35th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Parade. With the theme of “Unity is Our Strength,” we marched along North Harbor Drive and Pacific Highway with other college groups, police and fire departments, marching bands, drill teams and church groups.

Thank you to Chief Michael Cash and Student Development Director Brett Robertson for your successful recruitment efforts. It was wonderful day of service for all of us.

2015 MLK Parade

 

Welcoming Students for Spring Semester

The message of this semester’s Opening Day presentation is still fresh in my mind as we prepare for our students to return tomorrow. Dr. Jeff Duncan-Andrade has reminded us that many of our students have lived through—or are still experiencing—serious stress that paints a very different picture of education. Dr. Duncan-Andrade’s research is a powerful reinforcement to our efforts to create a welcoming and nurturing atmosphere for our students. If you would like to hear the podcast of Dr. Duncan-Andrade’s presentation, click here.

The resources we have allocated for additional counselors, tutoring and strengthening our learning communities give our students an opportunity to connect with a caring adult. The daily connections our students make with our faculty and classified professionals give them the confidence to continue their studies.

Our efficiency took a healthy leap over the weekend, thanks to keeping our registration open through midnight tonight. As of this morning, we were at 81.9%. I am asking that we all work this week to encourage our students to take one more class to help them fulfill their educational goals more quickly.

A new option for students this semester is Weekend College. Students can fulfill their general education requirements in two semesters by taking one class on Friday evenings and two classes on Saturday this semester and next semester. The list of courses being offered can be found at www.swccd.edu/weekendcollege

Wells Fargo Supporting SBDC

Congratulations to our South San Diego Small Business Development Center for receiving a $50,000 grant from Wells Fargo Bank. In a check presentation this morning, Wells Fargo San Diego Area Bank President Ernesto Arredondo presented us the check to increase services to small business owners.The grant will fund training, counseling and assisting small business owners to improve and grow their businesses.

SBDC Wells Fargo Grant

Last updated: 5/19/2015 11:38:03 AM