Public Comment

Peralta Colleges Take Steps to Reinvest Money in Community-Based Financial Institutions

By Abel Guillen
Friday November 18, 2011 - 07:24:00 PM

This week, the Peralta Community College District Board of Trustees adopted a resolution for the local reinvestment of its student fees and community tax dollars that will move the East Bay colleges’ funds from large, for-profit banks to community-based financial institutions. 

At every level of government, our elected representatives must foster policies and programs that support the larger economic and social goals of the Occupy Wall Street Movement, so that the people’s energy and outrage on the streets can be channeled into constructive economic actions instead of toward violence and vandalism that drain our already limited public resources. This practical action is a clear expression of our community values and can make a real difference. 

This decision will redirect our colleges’ funds and spending power into community-based financial institutions and serve the public interests of our students, teachers, staff and all of the East Bay residents who make up the 99%. 

By helping to keep our education and tax dollars in the East Bay, this move will also help maximize our region’s ability to spur local jobs and economic growth. 

The Peralta Colleges – Berkeley, Alameda, Laney and Merritt – serve more than 45,000 students, employ more than 1,500 teachers and staff, and have an annual budget of $140 million. 

The resolution states that Peralta’s mission “is better aligned with the goals of Community Banks, membership-based Credit Unions, and Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), that often operate from a “triple-bottom-line” that allows them to place importance on educational, financial, social and environmental goals while meeting the needs of its communities.” 

We envision “a finance and banking industry that is fair to the person with the least bargaining power; provides access to financial services for all our communities, particularly the traditionally underserved; results in the long-term prosperity of responsible consumers; promotes financial system stability; and contributes to the sustainability of environmental concerns.” 

The failed investment practices of our country’s major banks and other private-sector financial institutions has weakened California’s state budget and the ability of the state to fund public schools, colleges and universities throughout the state. The Peralta Colleges have suffered drastic reductions in the number of courses it can offer students and damaging cuts to essential student services. 

These steps are imperative to ensure that our educational resources remain intact and strong, and will help Peralta ensure equitable access to educational resources and opportunities for our students. 


Abel Guillen is a Peralta Community College District trustee.