Inclusion, Engagement, and Transformation

Skip to sidebarStudents Who Are Parents @ Cal

The Student Parent Program is an essential resource for a highly motivated population of undergraduate students who are engaged scholars, as well as devoted parents.

The Student Parent Program provides a centralized multi-purpose campus resource, where students can seek informed advice, develop leadership skills, engage in informal study groups, nurse babies, change diapers, celebrate achievements, recover from setback and form lasting friendships.

At every level of educational achievement, from high school through PhD programs, becoming a parent can pre-empt or preclude educational opportunities. Sustained efforts over the past 25 years have resulted in the development of Berkeley’s model student parent support services program.


CALTV InFocus: Student Parents

Profile of student parents

Useful campus and community website links


Inclusion & Access

Student Parent Program staff and interns engage in outreach to newly admitted student parents to answer questions and provide assistance in navigating thorough the many challenges that can arise in making the transition to Cal.

Program staff and interns are available by phone, e-mail and during drop-in hours to share information and resources that are important to students with families. 



Beginning with a summer student parent workshop continuing through break-out sessions during summer Transfer Student CalSO orientations and winding up with TRSP workshops during Welcome Week ), program staff and interns are actively engaged in creating access and inclusion at Cal.


Transition & Navigation

Once Upon A University: The student parent experience at Cal is an Education 98/198 Course designed to ensure a successful first semester transition, share survival strategies for balancing school and parenting and introduce student families to the resources and opportunities the campus and surrounding community have to offer.

Student parents are actively engaged in building community and sharing successful approaches to combining school, work and family through facilitation of the Education 98/198 course, It Takes A Village: Creating student parent learning communities. 

The Student Parent Program is also a resource for envisioning, planning and implementing personal, educational and career goals after graduation.  The final class in the student parent trilogy, Beyond The Village, addresses career and graduate school preparation and planning, with the needs of families in mind.  An active partnership with the Career Center supports the development of skill-based resumes, job search strategies, internship applications, personal statements and graduate school applications.

The Baby Bears @ Cal Project provides information, peer support and practical strategies for new student parents.  Project interns serve as guides in navigating the personal, academic and institutional challenges of pregnancy, childbirth and new parenthood. 

Many student parents have had a family before being admitted to Cal as new transfer students or new freshman, but students at Cal also stay in school and reach graduation, having become new parents. Pregnancy and childbirth can be transformative experiences that serve as a powerful source of motivation to excel in college.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting…at Cal is a collaborative effort of student parent program staff and interns who have navigated this challenge.

The CalWORKs = CalGRADs Project  was developed to ensure that low-income student parents who are reliant on California’s Welfare to Work Program are able to fulfill and document their education, training, study and work requirements. The Project supports low-income family access to Childcare, Med-Cal, Food Assistance and other needed social service supports that allow parents to achieve a college degree, as a viable pathway out of poverty. 

Community College CalWorks counselors have been instrumental in encouraging a number of student parents to apply to Berkeley. To demonstrate Berkeley’s ability to be considered a training program, Student Parent Program staff and campus partners reached out to County Directors and eligibility workers to make the case that a four year University can provide the essential elements needed to make a successful transition from welfare to work, and CalWorks = CalGrads was born! 


Contribution & Achievement

Meaningful and creative opportunities for student parents to engage in Service Learning Internships  link have been an essential part of the Student Parent Program for 20 years. Sponsorship by supportive faculty in the School of Social Welfare make it possible for student parents to gain experience and make volunteer contributions, scheduled around classes and parenting responsibilities. Internships for academic credit contribute to services at the Student Parent Program and can be developed in community settings serving children, youth and families. 

The Student Parent Association for Recruitment and Retention (SPARR) is headquartered at the Student Parent Program. A registered student group with funding from the ASUC (student government) the Student Parent Association is a voice for student parents to promote campus awareness and advocate for student parent concerns.

The SPARR Facebook Group creates an immediate daily connection for parents to get advice, offer assistance, share recommendations, distribute donations, organize events and celebrate family achievements.

The TRSP Center Annual Achievement Celebration brings transfer, re-entry, student veteran, and student parent families and friends together to celebrate the achievement of this major milestone.


Financial Aid & Scholarships

The Student Parent Program provides information, referrals and recommendations for grants and scholarships that are particularly relevant to student parents.  

Students with children who qualify for need-based aid are packaged with up to $8,000 in an additional student parent grant (over and above Pell and Cal Grants). More information is available at Financial Aid:
To augment what is available through financial aid, student parents are actively engaged in seeking outside scholarships, with the Berkeley Scholarship Connection as a primary resource.

The TRSP Center is also a resource to identify qualified candidates and support students in applying for a number of in-house or affiliated scholarship programs. These include:

The Osher Foundation Reentry Scholarship Program funds 10-15 Osher Reentry Scholars with awards of $2,000-$5,000 for the academic year. Annual deadline in fall term.

The Zachary Michael Cruz Memorial Scholarship was created by the Cruz family to preserve Zachary's memory, and to reward excellence in public education supporting the University's commitment to access, equity, and inclusion. Visit the foundation website to learn more about Zachary Cruz, and the purpose and history of this unique scholarship.
Annual deadline in November.

The Beverly Mullins Memorial Scholarship was established by the Mullins family to provide financial assistance to leaders who are single parent reentry students. Up to $5,000 is awarded be each year.  Visit the Beverly Mullins webpage for application information. Annual deadline mid-late April.

The University Section Club is an essential source of support for the Student Parent Program as well as one-time emergency grants and scholarships. Student Parent Program staff can determine if you the criteria for assistance and refer you for their consideration.

The PEO Women’s Philanthropic Organization provides scholarships working through a network of local chapters.  The Program for Continuing Education (PCE) grant supports women who find it necessary to return to school to support themselves and their families. The Student Parent Program works with multiple local PEO chapters to arrange interviews to determine eligible candidates for sponsorship by a chapter. Contact the Student Parent Program to learn more about the interview process and schedule (access to the online application can only be provided by a sponsoring P.E.O. chapter).

Soroptimist is an international organization for business and professional women who work to improve the lives of women and girls, in local communities and throughout the world.

The Soroptimist’s Women’s Opportunity Awards Program assists women who are the primary source of financial support for their families and seeking to improve their education, skills and employment prospects.

The program begins at the local Soroptimist club-level, and  the Student Parent Program works closely with the El Cerrito Chapter to recruit Berkeley student parents to apply:


Engagement & Connection

Supporting the Bear Necessities:
The Student Parent Program welcomes fresh food donations from regular donors such as Whole Foods, The Cheese Board and Noah’s bagelsThe Bear Pantry, located in University Village Family Housing was established to receive donations of canned goods, other non-perishables and grocery store gift certificates, to serve as an emergency resource in times of food shortage (which is not uncommon for low-income families who are reliant on financial aid).

Local clothing shops such as Kid Dynamo have donated much needed baby and toddler clothes, and other local businesses like Saturn Café (host for new parent baby shower/celebration and Groove Yoga (free classes for new/expectant moms) have demonstrated their support for the student parent experience at Cal.

The Need For On-Going Advocacy!
The Student Parent Program has engaged with key campus partners in advocacy for policies and practices that provide equity and inclusion in support of student parent academic success:

  • Academic Policies: reduced course load, academic appeals (late or retroactive drops)
  • Financial Aid: student parent grant, family-related budget appeals, satisfactory academic progress
  • Child Care: need for expansion of infant, toddler, preschool, school age, protesting cuts
  • Disabled Student Services: pregnancy as a disability
  • Family Housing: access and affordability
  • Admissions: outreach to underrepresented, first-generation student parents

Student parent support services are one important measure of an institution’s commitment to non-discrimination and can contribute to the creation of a supportive campus climate for all non-traditional student populations.

The complex process by which campus services to student parents and other non-traditional students evolved at Berkeley looks like this:

And the benefits of this sustained effort looks like this: TRSP Center student staff and interns:

Student Parent Staff:

Ginelle Perez: Program Director, Student Parent Programs and Services

As a former student parent, Ginelle Perez, returns to CAL in a career staff position as the Student Parent Program’s Academic Achievement & Retention Counselor. Ginelle completed her B.A. in Social Welfare in 2009. As a Berkeley student she actively participated in the Incentive Awards Program, Student Parent Association for Recruitment and Retention (SPARR), SAGE Scholars Program, Alternative Spring Break, and was also a Chicana/Latina Scholarship recipient. Post graduation, she received her Masters in Education in Higher Education Administration and Student Services from USC. Ginelle is originally from Redwood City, CA and has two daughters, ages 10 & 2.

Ariane DeVore: Student Services Project Specialist