Sonoma State University to Provide New Spring 2022 Students Free iPads as Part of the CSUCCESS Program

Sonoma State University (SSU) will be participating in a pilot of the second phase of CSUCCESS (California State University Connectivity Contributing to Equity and Student Success) to enhance student achievement and create more equitable opportunities. More than half of CSU’s campuses are now participating in this groundbreaking technology distribution program, bridging digital equity for students across California.

Incoming new first-year and transfer students who are joining SSU for the Spring 2022 term will be eligible to receive a technology bundle that includes a new iPad Air, Apple Pencil, and Apple Smart Keyboard. Students will be provided with this iPad bundle for the entirety of their undergraduate experience at Sonoma State.

“I’m excited to expand this important program to even more incoming students this spring to help bridge the digital divide and establish a technological foundation for achievement from day one of their college journey,” said CSU Chancellor Joseph I. Castro. “The program shows tremendous promise in advancing our goals of student success and educational equity.”

CSUCCESS is the largest device distribution program of its kind in the nation coming from the largest and most diverse system of four-year higher education in the U.S. Nearly half of all CSU undergraduates receive Pell Grants — demonstrating financial need — and nearly one-third are the first in their family to pursue a bachelor’s degree.

Throughout the state, students reported difficulties accessing quality devices and reliable internet during the pandemic. CSU campuses stepped up by offering mobile hotspots and short-term loaner laptops to help overcome some of these obstacles. The CSUCCESS initiative builds on these efforts to address the issue at scale and over the whole span of the undergraduate degree, making more high-quality devices available to more students, while leveraging the size of the CSU to secure strong partnerships with major national vendors like Apple.

Sonoma State’s CSUCCESS pilot is currently for Spring 2022. Continuing SSU students who need a computer may borrow a laptop through the university library’s Laptop Loan program. The laptop loan program serves as an alternative in concert with CSUCCESS to ensure that students have the tools they need to succeed.

“CSUCCESS is a revolutionary effort to increase student access to the digital tools they need to succeed in college and move forward into careers that meet the workforce needs of California. Sonoma State is proud to be part of this program in support of our students. These devices will help undergraduates make progress towards graduation and offer new opportunities for teaching and learning in the classroom,” said University Provost Karen Moranski.

“The CSUCCESS program is one way for us to remove barriers to success for our diverse and talented students so they feel supported and empowered to focus on their academics,” said Chancellor Castro. “Reliable, modern technology builds a foundation for achievement and can transform opportunities for our students statewide.”

The program is an important component in the CSU’s efforts to recover from the pandemic and improve student success while eliminating opportunity and achievement gaps as part of Graduation Initiative 2025.

Visit the CSUCCESS website for additional information about the program.

53rd Annual Public Media Awards Finalists Announced

Northern California Public Media (NorCal) has been recognized as a finalist in two categories for The National Educational Telecommunications Association (NETA) 53rd Annual Public Media Awards (PMAs). Each year, the Public Media Awards celebrate NETA members’ finest work in community engagement, content, education, and marketing and communications.

“Northern California Public Media is so proud to have been nominated in two categories, Outstanding Podcast for Living Downstream: The Environmental Justice Podcast, and Outstanding Independent Production Afro-Latino Travels with Kim Haas, Kim Haas/Northern California Public Media,” said NorCal’s President and CEO, Darren LaShelle. He continued, “This year has brought many challenges, but our team of talented producers and reporters have done outstanding work. We are so pleased to have our efforts recognized by the PMAs.”

Award winners will be announced during the 53rd Annual Public Media Awards Gala presented by Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB) on January 25, 2022, as part of the NETA Conference and CPB Public Media Thought Leader Forum.

Awards were judged by a group of expert panelists from within the public media system, as well as industry professionals working outside of public media. Except for the overall excellence categories, stations competed within their appropriate divisions based on their station size.

About NorCal Public Media
The Rural California Broadcasting Corporation (which owns and operates Northern California Public Media), is the licensee of KRCB TV in the North Bay, KPJK TV in the South Bay, and KRCB 104.9 FM Radio. In order to encourage full participation in society and community, Northern California Public Media provides educational, informational and cultural telecommunication services in partnership with our community.

About NETA
The National Educational Telecommunications Association (NETA) is a professional association representing 279 member stations in 47 states, the Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia. NETA provides leadership, general audience content, educational services, professional development, and trusted financial management services, including human resources and benefits administration, to individual public media licensees, their affinity groups, and public media as a whole, visit

SPARC CEO Erich Pearson and Other Sonoma County Cannabis Companies Fearing Market Collapse, Sonoma County Cannabis Industry Seeks Cultivation Tax Removal

Stemming from a threatened raise in state cannabis cultivation taxes, the Cannabis Business Association of Sonoma County and the Sonoma Valley Cannabis Enthusiasts have joined forces and plan to ask for “immediate tax reform” from the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors on Dec. 7.

“Every licensed cultivator is in dire survival mode, said local cannabis regulatory attorney Joe Rogoway, who drafted resolutions to present to supervisors requesting the county lobby the state to repeal the cultivation tax. They’re also asking the county to eliminate or suspend its local cultivation tax for three years.

Sonoma County taxes a dozen types of licensed growers from $1.12 to $12.65 per square foot depending on the category.

Rogoway contends the unprecedented tax structure was established after voters passed adult, recreational use in Proposition 64 in 2016 based on what farmers could grow on their property. It was based on “the fiction” the industry had unlimited potential.

“That fantasy never panned out,” he said.

Ranging from lobbyists to ancillary producers to dispensary owners and advocates, many fear a collapse of an industry already reeling over a drop in prices, ongoing competition with the illicit market and already burdensome tax structures on federal, state and local levels.

From growers to retailers, cannabis businesses pay a multitude of taxes, including excise, sales and employment. Labeling an insult to injury, the U.S. government imposes taxes without even recognizing the industry as legal. But California does, and in turn, taxes the distribution channel every step of the way.

The state announced a week ago a raise in the cultivation tax rates in January to reflect a rise in inflation, which nationally stands at 6.2%. Since then, at least one cannabis business, leaders of Flow Kana, based in Mendocino, told the Sacramento Bee that it may not pay.

But the state Department of Cannabis Control Director Nicole Elliott warned that not doing so would only prompt the state “to take action.”

Elliott, a longtime industry advocate and up until July Gov. Gavin Newsom’s senior cannabis adviser, said she understands the frustration among the industry.

“State law says you pay your taxes. This is a fundamental component of tax law. But I get we’re seeing business is in this very challenging moment,” she told the Business Journal.

Elliott urged the industry and their local representatives to take their issues to the state Legislature. Calls to California Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg — a longtime cannabis industry advocate as well — were unreturned.

“They need to explain their pain points,” she said, adding it will take “a collective effort” among all the players to pull off change.

When asked whether she believes a tax hike will drive licensed operators into the illicit market, she said: “The state does care deeply about our legal market. If they choose to drop out, they’ll lose the integrity of the benefits of being in the legal market.”

With 68% of local jurisdictions in the state disallowing cannabis operators, a solution may lie with the federal government “getting off the sidelines” in providing safe harbor for the industry and legalizing it alongside the largest state provider, she said.

“Until then, California will continue to see these issues,” she said.

California’s current cannabis cultivation tax stands at $9.65 an ounce for dry cannabis flower as an example. Come Jan. 1, growers will be taxed $10.08.

As of Nov. 16, the state collected $322.34 million in taxes for the third quarter, the Business Journal reported Nov. 29. Of that amount, cultivation taxes comprised $42.41 million.

The California Department of Taxation and Fee Administration told the Business Journal the excise tax rate — collected from consumers for goods sold — will remain the same.

But that consolation fails to fend off industry outrage.

“Our industry is in deep trouble. We’re impacted on several important fronts. Our industry is taxed like no other, we have few retail outlets available to us, the illicit market continues to boom, and we face unparalleled regulatory hurdles,” association co-founder and Erich Pearson, CEO of SPARC in Santa Rosa, said in a statement. “Frankly, what we’re experiencing is a market collapse.”

The concern has spread statewide.

“Could we experience a collapse? Yes. And I think it will be more widespread than you think. The small guys are not going to make it,” California Cannabis Industry Association lobbyist Amy Jenkins told the Business Journal.

Jenkins, whose Precision Advocacy company represents many cannabis industry clients, recommends changing the tax structure. But first, she’s suggesting the state view the market fluctuations of the product before taxing cannabis, not lump it with all other goods, which are seeing a rise in prices. A one-size-fits-all approach does not work.

“What metrics are they using? We acknowledge it’s an inflationary move. But the cultivation price is down. They need to use the wholesale price of the cultivated product,” she said.

But Jenkins stopped short of saying “not paying” is the answer.

“Some companies talk about doing that, but it violates the law, and the state will just revoke their licenses. I don’t advise my clients to do that,” she said.

Nonetheless, North Bay cannabis business operators from a variety of angles are disgruntled by the state’s plans.

“A tax boycott is what you do when you have nothing to lose,” said Tiffany Devitt, chief of government affairs for CannaCraft, a large cannabis producer in Santa Rosa. “And it’s tragic.”

Devitt said three solutions need to be implemented to fix the problem.

For one, the state needs to make good on its promise dictated in Prop. 64 to drive out the black market.

“The state has utterly betrayed what voters voted on,” she said.

Also, Devitt insists the cultivation tax must be removed “completely” since the product is taxed up the supply chain anyway.

Plus, the excise tax needs to drop to make a market correction.

No action is not an option for any business associated with the cannabis industry, Devitt stressed, calling the build-up of the collapse one that nears “an extinction event” if the industry is expected to simply weather the storm.

“No one in the cannabis industry is not hit by this,” she said.

“This is brutal and more of a blow to a real difficult environment,” said Eric Sklar, co-founder and CEO of Napa Valley Fume, a cannabis brand. “This will require leadership (to fix). Everyone knows (the system) is broken.”

Sklar contends the added pressure on licensed cannabis brokers will help the black market flourish.

“It’s getting out of control. The illegal side continues to be very big,” he said. “What this does is encourage businesses to never go legal in the first place.”

From the view of Sebastopol’s cannabis dispensary operation, Solful, CEO Eli Melrod agreed the impact of the squeeze on growers goes way beyond those cultivating the plants.

“With some, more taxes are collected than revenue coming in,” Melrod told the Business Journal.

The dispensary operator doesn’t necessarily advocate refusing to pay state taxes. Instead, he considers the proposal a form of “drawing attention” to the issue and calls it a measure of “last resort,” he added.

“This problem is very real. It’s death by a thousand cuts,” he said.

College of Marin Covering All Mandatory Fees for Spring 2022 Semester

College of Marin (COM) is investing in the community by removing financial barriers to enrolling in classes. COM will pay tuition and all mandatory fees* for credit/noncredit students who register for the spring 2022 semester through the new Clear Path program.

“We understand that many members of our campus community may be experiencing additional financial burden because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we want tuition to be one less thing they have to worry about for the spring semester.” said Superintendent/President Dr. David Wain Coon.

The Board of Trustees also acted to eliminate previous student debt from March 2020 until November 2021 to bring back students who left COM with debt.

“Facilitating the removal of barriers to educational opportunities is part of our work as Trustees,” says Board President Wanden Treanor. “We’re hoping that clearing students’ outstanding debt and paying tuition for spring will relieve some financial pressure and encourage those who were unable to continue their education to reenroll.”

The College remains committed to in-person instruction that is safe and accessible to all members of the community. As part of that commitment, COM is requiring all students, employees, and volunteers to be fully vaccinated against the virus that causes COVID-19.

For all students—whether they are taking in-person, hybrid, or distance education classes—proof of vaccination is required as a condition of enrollment for spring semester. College officials are encouraging current and prospective students to submit their proof of vaccination or exemption request as soon as possible.

Registration opens for all students November 19. Spring semester starts January 22 for Saturday classes and January 24 for weekday classes. More information about free spring tuition is available on Clear Path program page.

*Fee waiver includes material fees, but does not include parking permit fees, textbook costs, or permissives (e.g., rush transcript orders).


About College of Marin

Established in 1926, College of Marin remains committed to educational excellence, providing equitable opportunities, and fostering success for all members of its diverse community. With campuses in Kentfield and Novato, students of all ages have affordable access to an exciting variety of credit and noncredit courses as well as community education classes for lifelong learning. College of Marin is one of 116 public community colleges in California and nearly 14,000 credit, noncredit, and community education students enroll annually.

College of Marin is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges, 10 Commercial Boulevard, Suite 204, Novato, CA 94949, (415) 506-0234, an institutional accrediting body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the U.S. Department of Education.

Ultragenyx CEO and President, Emil D. Kakkis, PhD Receives the Life Science Leadership Award

For the past 18 years, California Life Sciences (CLS) has recognized the state’s leaders and gamechangers from across the life sciences industry, paying tribute to those making exceptional contributions and advancements for a better world. For 2021, Pantheon Award winners were selected by the public and were recognized for their excellence.

The Life Sciences Leader is an individual who strives to make the world a better place by employing new, innovative business models and practices in support of the life sciences. They will be recognized for overall achievement in and contribution to the California community; ability to create and execute on a vision; mentorship of future leaders; notable track record of value-creation; support of initiatives that impact the patient lives.

Catholic Charities of Santa Rosa Receives a Game Changing Donation

Since launching the Caritas Village Capital Campaign four years ago, we have seen our community step up in ways we could never have imagined. It has been our greatest honor to build something with you that will forever change how Catholic Charities addresses homelessness in Sonoma County.

Today, Catholic Charities has been recognized once again for its vision and service to the community. We have been selected by a nationwide team of homelessness experts to receive a $5M leadership award from the Bezos Day 1 Families Fund to fund our needle-moving work to provide shelter and support to families experiencing homelessness.

This is a very big gift, and a very big social issue. Between this one-time gift and the continued support of our amazing existing family of donors and funders, we believe we can make large strides toward ending family homelessness in our community.

Catholic Charities will use these funds to get families sheltered, housed, and stabilized as quickly as possible. A key component of that will happen through Caritas Center, our new emergency family shelter slated to open in downtown Santa Rosa in summer 2022.

As you know, Caritas Center includes 192 family shelter beds in private rooms, onsite childcare and academic support, onsite physical and mental healthcare through our partner Santa Rosa Community Health, and comprehensive housing services. We are also partnering with Burbank Housing to develop 128 affordable housing units on the same site.

When Caritas Center opens, we will be able to help thousands more families each year… families like Michelle’s.

“Catholic Charities helped me during the hardest time of my life. All along the way, they surrounded us with love and cherished my family’s experience.

After all we went through, they helped us believe in ourselves again. I am so thankful to their team for helping us find a home,” said Michelle, a former shelter resident.

The Bezos Day 1 Fund award will partially fund services and operations for Caritas Center during the initial 3-5 years of operations, as well as innovations in six key areas of our work with families experiencing homelessness: (1) Diverting families from shelter (2) Outreach (3) Shelter (4) Help finding housing, (5) Stabilization once housed, and (6) Improving racial equity and outcomes.

We are deeply grateful to the Bezos Day 1 Families Fund, a charitable foundation created by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and a committee of the leading homelessness experts to address the immediate needs of young families experiencing homelessness. This year, the Day 1 Families Fund issued a total of $96.2 million in one-time grants to 32 organizations across the country, and we are excited to see the impact of this philanthropy in our region and beyond.

Most importantly, we are grateful to you and our family of supporters who have been with us from the beginning, and who will be with us in the future as Catholic Charities continues to develop game-changing solutions to poverty and homelessness, trusting that the community will step up to bring our dreams to life.

I am humbled, grateful, excited, and inspired.  Please keep us in your prayers as we work to steward these funds for the good of every child who is hoping for a home. 

With love for all,

Len Marabella, CEO Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Santa Rosa

First 5 Futures Registration Open

First 5 Futures Registration Form / Formulario de Registro Futuros de First 5
First 5 Futures is a First 5 Sonoma County program that provides a FREE College Saving Account to eligible children age 2 up to their 5th birthday. First 5 Sonoma County will make an initial deposit of $200 for every eligible child. Families participating in this program have the opportunity to receive up to an additional $300 in incentives.

– Sonoma County resident
– Household Adjusted Gross Income of $75,000 or less (no verification required)
– Children age 2 to 5 years

Please note that it may take us up to 90 days after information is received to establish the account. If you have any questions please contact us at (707) 522-2026.

Futuros de First 5 es un programa de First 5 del condado de Sonoma que ofrece cuentas de ahorro universitarias GRATUITAS a niños elegibles de 2 años hasta que cumplan los 5 años. First 5 del condado de Sonoma hará un depósito inicial de $200 a cada niño elegible. Las familias que participen en este programa tienen la oportunidad de recibir hasta $300 dólares adicionales en incentivos.

– Residente del condado de Sonoma
– Ingreso bruto ajustado del hogar de $75,000 o menos (no se requiere verificación)
– Niños de 2 a 5 años de edad

Tenga en mente que puede llevarnos hasta 90 días después de recibir su información para establecer la cuenta. Si tiene alguna pregunta, comuníquese con nosotros al (707) 522-2026.

Sonoma State University Scholarship Program

The Fall 2022- Spring 2023 University Scholarship Application is now open!

The application cycle is November 1 – February 1 annually

Basic Eligibility criteria:

  • Any degree-seeking student, new or continuing, planning to attend the upcoming year (formal admission acceptance not required at the time of application)
  • Minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA
  • Full-time enrollment (verified at the time of disbursement)

Scholarship Application Content:

  • Basic questions regarding your background, interests and activities, and educational goals
  • A section to describe your financial need (if applicable)
  • Three short-answer essay questions addressing your intellectual growth and curiosity, service beyond the classroom, and goals and values

All scholarships applicants must use their MySSU login to access the scholarship application site. If you are a new applicant for admission, you may activate your MySSU account login to apply for scholarships as well as track your admission application.

CSU Future Scholars

This scholarship is designed for low-income, first-generation college students and it is renewable for up to four years.

Eligibility criteria:

  • Low-income (verified by FASFA information)
  • First-generation (parents do not have a college degree)
  • Incoming First-Year Freshman
  • 3.0 final high school GPA

Contact the Scholarship Office for more information, applications are generally available over the summer.

Theatre, Dance, and Music Scholarships

The Theatre Arts & Dance and Music departments offer their own unique scholarships for which there is a separate application and may include an audition.

Athletic Awards

Each Athletic Department coach is responsible for making talent awards to athletes on their team. Consequently, student athletes should contact the appropriate coach to explore possible athletic talent awards.

Summer Session/Winter Intersession Scholarships

The School of Extended and International Education offers scholarships to students prior to each summer and winter session. Visit their Summer Session/Winter Intersession page to learn more.

Sonoma County Winegrowers’ Karissa Kruse to Speak at TEDxSonomaCounty

Simply defined, emergence is order arising from chaos. As TEDxSonomaCounty reflects on how our community has changed over the past year, and we cultivate the seeds of new beginnings, we bring you TEDxSonomaCounty 2022: Emergence!

Examples of emergent behavior exist in things we observe around us: birds flocking, ants colonizing, fish schooling, individuals self-organizing into neighborhoods in cities, our changing global climate, or the development of a collective consciousness about inclusion and individual rights.

We are living through a time of great social, health, and ecological instability, where the forces of creation and chaos are evident. Ahead of us lies uncertainty; and yet, also a great deal of hope for the possibility of what is to come.

Possibility grounded in radical renewal, emerging through our shared values of reverence for nature, interconnectedness, stewardship, compassion, and service. Our desire for restoration applies not only to our environment but to our fractured human systems. It relies on the power of belonging and how an embodied knowledge of place enables us to create community more fully.

Emergence creates a set of conditions where we embrace change and a chance to see what comes next. The grand challenge is to develop an emergence-based framework for approaching major societal issues – a strategy to inform policies and to design experiments to solve major problems that we face as a society.

Join us on Saturday, January 29, 2022 at our 10th annual TEDxSonomaCounty to experience Emergence: to hear big ideas in technology, entertainment, and design and to participate in our TEDx community. Be inspired by thought-provoking speakers who share concepts that are larger than ourselves and help reframe our vision of what is possible.

Speaker Spotlight: Karissa Kruse
• Drink the Good Stuff
President of the Sonoma County Winegrowers talks about getting all too comfortable with disasters, rebuilding and boldly leading. These are the lessons that have guided her personally and our wine and ag community as we “emerge” from wildfires, droughts and a global pandemic while still leading in sustainability and climate.

Get your Early Bird Tickets Today

Event and ticket link:

Parent of Petaluma’s Arrow Benefits Buys Sebastopol Insurance Benefits Firm Aita and Associates

Coinciding with a surging growth plan, the parent company of Arrow Benefits Group bought a Sebastopol insurance benefits firm, it announced on Sept. 15.

Aita and Associates has become Arrow Benefits of Petaluma. The acquisition that took place in May comes a week after parent Patriot Growth Insurance Services based in Pennsylvania reported a plan to recapitalize on its investments.

Arrow Benefits CEO Joe Genovese told the Business Journal that Aita and Associates served as an ideal fit with Arrow, with its 1,500 clients and 40 employees. He also liked how Aita offered similar employee benefits, a crucial component to retaining and attracting good talent in the age of a coronavirus-spawned labor shortage.

“Employee benefits, in the true sense of the word, has become a way of compensation as a recruitment tool,” he said. “More employers are feeling the need to provide benefits and increase their benefit offerings.”

Arrow Benefits retained one of Aita’s company principles, Bob Aita, and three other employees on staff at the time of the purchase. The other company partner, Aita’s wife Nancy, retired.

“The trend in the industry is consolidation,” said Bob Aita, who now works for Arrow as a senior benefits consultant. At age 74, Aita said he was seeking an opportunity to wind down and Arrow had pursued his company for three years.

“We weren’t going to hand over the business to just any company,” Aita said.

Point well taken, Patriot Growth CEO Matt Gardner noted.

“We definitely have strong growth plans for Arrow,” Gardner told the Business Journal.

The financials behind the Sonoma County transaction involving the Sebastopol company were undisclosed as well as details surrounding its recapitalization plan. Typically, companies pursue the plans to restructure debt and assets upon receiving investments.

Founded in 2019, privately-held Patriot Growth owns 64 benefits and property and casualty insurance companies serving more than 100,000 clients across the United States and staffs 1,100 employees. According to Dunn & Bradstreet, the corporation has $62.5 million in annual revenues.

Gardner explained that his company seeks mergers with companies reaching their prime with “a ton of gas left in the tank.” He insisted there’s no “magic number” of how many firms it plans to add to its portfolio.

But the 30-year insurance benefits executive agreed with Aita that the trend in the industry shows small firms hitching their wagons to larger corporations as a means to offer more resources to tap into.

“It’s getting harder and harder for small operators to have the resources to handle the demand,” Gardner said.

To strengthen its own financial footing, the recapitalization plan for the Fort Washington, Penn.-based company is due for completion in a month. The plan, managed by Morgan Stanley financially, revolves around the infusion of capital involving Summit Partners, an investor based in Boston, Mass., and GI Partners in San Francisco.

To those investors, Patriot Growth is walking the talk.

“Matt (Gardner) has demonstrated an ability to attract outstanding talent to Patriot, both in terms of employees as well as acquisition targets that have expanded the company’s footprint and capabilities,” GI Partners Managing Director Jeff Sheu said in a statement.