BARSTOW — After being reminded that in today's world a K-12 education is no longer enough for a person to get a job that can support a family, the City Council on Monday night unanimously approved a resolution to support free community college tuition.

The College Promise campaign is a national, nonpartisan initiative to build broad public support for funding the first two years of higher education for students attending community colleges. Local communities and states are being urged to create College Promise programs.

"... We can tell them (students) you don't have to worry about the money, your community believes in you and your community is supporting a scholarship for you and all you just have to do is follow these few easy steps to apply," Barstow Community College superintendent/president Dr. Deborah DiThomas told the Council before the vote. 

She explained Barstow Community College received a $19,000 grant to help with the planning of the College Promise program. The Council's vote merely supports the objective to get the community behind the program. DiThomas said the college hopes to launch a pilot program in 2017 sponsoring 100 graduates from local high schools. Funding for this effort will be sought from the city, local businesses, unions, nonprofit foundations, civic and public service organizations and private donors. These funds will augment what is already provided by federal and state financial aid programs.

"We took a team, Mayor Julie (Hackbarth-McIntyre) and myself, our board president and Jeff Malan (Barstow Unified School District superintendent) and went to Oakland to attend a convention about College Promises and how to incorporate other communities. And what we heard is that unless the city is involved in and supportive, the K-12 district is involved and supportive and the community is involved and in support, it really doesn't work," DiThomas said.

She said the team gathered at the airport after the convention and talked about how to implement a College Promise program in Barstow.

"The way it will help us, even though many of our students will already qualify for the BOG (Board of Governors fee waiver), and what we have designed so far, is that this will be a last dollar program. Which means that the promise doesn't actually have to support financially until a student does not get the BOG or unless we include a small textbook scholarship with it. Depends on the amount of money we can raise."

Mike Lamb can be reached at 760-957-0613 or mlamb@desertdispatch.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @mlambdispatch.