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Support Groups For Black College Students Bridging Safety Net Gap

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Santa Monica College's Black Collegians member Nagmi Sharif leads an Instagram meditation session. (Adolfo Guzman-Lopez/LAist)
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African American students are among the most vulnerable on community college campuses. The COVID-19 crisis is only making that worse.

Now, groups like Black Collegians at Santa Monica College and its umbrella organization, Umoja Community, are becoming an even greater lifeline for black students faced with tough choices about staying in school.

"It's going to sound kind of crazy, but I feel like [the crisis] is making us tighter," said LiDell Montague, Black Collegians' director of publicity, who's studying film editing at Santa Monica College.

"People may not have a job, people may not have that income that may come in, or food may be a little bit scarce, but I feel like we're uniting more as a team."

Frank Harris III, a professor of postsecondary education at San Diego State University, said that kind of close engagement is vital to keeping struggling students from dropping out.
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"A student who doesn't have a community, who's not already connected in some way, could literally be kind of lost in the abyss right now, with no one to turn to, not sure where to go," he said.

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