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The SBCC School of Extended Learning and the SBCC Foundation are hosting a garden party at the Wake Campus on Sunday, September 9 from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. to celebrate 100 years of Adult Education in Santa Barbara. All are welcome!

On April 1, 1918, eighty-one students enrolled in a new “evening program” in Santa Barbara, taking English and citizenship classes. The program started when Pearl Chase, one of Santa Barbara’s most influential civic leaders, made a recommendation to the board of education. Over the next several decades, adult education in our community grew, with help from historic adult education leaders, including Eldon Ford, Grace Ruth Southwick, Selmer O. “Sam” Wake, and the Luria family. Today, the SBCC School of Extended Learning offers free and fee-based programs and classes that serve our diverse adult population, including English as a Second Language (ESL), Career Skills, Adult High School, Parenting, Health and Safety, Fee-Based Life Enhancement, and a diverse offering of classes for older adults.

SBCC is excited to celebrate this significant centennial milestone with the community. The Garden Party will offer attendees a chance to mingle, enjoy refreshments, and learn about adult education in Santa Barbara. A short program will include remarks from: Dr. Anthony E. Beebe, SBCC Superintendent/President; Dr. Melissa V. Moreno, Interim Vice President of the School of Extended Learning; Geoff Green, CEO of the SBCC Foundation; Lee Luria, a supporter and student of adult education in Santa Barbara since 1957; Phil Mundy, nephew of Selmer Wake and trustee of the Wake Family Trust; and Lucio Garcia, a former SBCC student.

Adult education in Santa Barbara has made a tremendous impact in our community over the past century, and the program has been lauded as being one of the best in the country. Many people continue to find adult education classes life changing, as they are able to learn new skills, earn a high school diploma and pursue higher education, embark on a new career path, and enrich their lives with classes in gardening, culinary arts, music, fitness, and more. Last year, Santa Barbara City College established the School of Extended Learning, bringing back state-funded adult education in order to offer numerous free courses along with fee-based programs. Approximately 1,000 classes are offered per semester, with more being added.

The Wake Campus is named for Selmer O. “Sam” Wake, a champion and longtime leader of Santa Barbara adult education. He was appointed program director in 1947, and served for 25 years as the principal architect of what became one of the best continuing education programs in the nation. In 2008, when friends gathered to mourn his passing and praise his achievements, a colleague quoted Yeats, saying Wake felt that “education is not filling a bucket, but lighting a fire.” Another related how generous he was, even after retiring. Wake was also committed to raising funds for SBCC. He served on a committee that created the Foundation for Santa Barbara City College in 1976, served as its first executive director for several years, and later as an honorary board member. He continued to raise funds for adult education programs, and with his wife Bee, established two charitable remainder trust gifts which on their passing created the Wake Family Endowment to support diverse needs of continuing education programs. At the garden party celebration Phil Mundy, Wake’s nephew, will reflect on the role of adult education in Santa Barbara and his uncle’s legacy.

About the SBCC School of Extended Learning

The SBCC School of Extended Learning offers tuition-free and fee-based educational and community programs that serve our diverse adult population. Programs advance career and life skills, and offer bridges to credit. These include English as a Second Language (ESL), Career Skills, Adult High School, Parenting, Health and Safety, Fee-Based Life Enhancement, and classes for older adults. Hundreds of courses are offered each semester, spanning a multitude of subject areas. Visit the website to learn more:

About the SBCC Foundation

The SBCC Foundation has provided Santa Barbara City College with private philanthropic support since 1976, serving as the vehicle through which individuals and organizations may invest in the college and its students. The SBCC Foundation provides more than $4.5 million annually for student success programs, scholarships, book grants, and other critical needs of the college in order to support SBCC students as they prepare for careers, transfer to four-year universities, and pursue lifelong learning goals. In 2016, the Foundation launched the SBCC Promise in order to provide all local high school graduates with the opportunity to attend SBCC full time at no cost. More than 2,000 students have enrolled in the SBCC Promise, which covers all required fees, books, and supplies for up to two years. Visit to learn more.

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