Student Transition and Academic Retention Team (START)

Note to students: The content on this page applies to students at both the Pleasant Hill and San Ramon campuses.

Covid-19 Emergency Grant

Are you having difficulty paying your college costs or experiencing a financial emergency related to attending college due to the COVID-19 pandemic ? If so, you may be eligible for the COVID-19 Emergency Grant! Students enrolled for spring 2022 can apply for  $1000 grant to help with books, supplies, housing, food, transportation, technology needs, health care, child care and other costs. Don’t let a financial emergency keep you from completing your educational goals at DVC! Funds are limited! Learn more and apply now!

The college has currently suspended all face-to-face classes and face-to-face student interactions on both campuses. However, DVC is open for remote and online services and instruction. 

START is a Foster Youth Success Initiative (FYSI)  support program designed to increase access, retention, and graduation rates for current or former foster youth at DVC. Our goal is to provide a warm and welcoming environment, create a support network, and empower foster youth students to make progress towards self-sufficiency, professional success, and community leadership.


If you are a current or former foster youth interested in additional supports at DVC, please complete the START Student Interest form. This form may also be used if you would like to refer a student to the START program. 

How can START help you?

  • Assistance with enrollment (application, orientation, assessment, and registration)
  • Setting up an appointment with an academic counselor to obtain an educational plan
  • Processing eligibility for priority registration
  • Streamlined process for fixing errors with residency status
  • Expedited financial aid processing (FAFSA, BOG, CHAFEE, Missing Information Checklist, etc.)
  • Access to John Burton Foundation's book fund (while supplies last)
  • Assistance with scholarship applications and provide letters of recommendation
  • Assistance with Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOPS) application
  • Direct referrals to other support programs on campus (DSS, Tutoring, Career, Transfer, etc.)
  • Referrals to off-campus resources (housing, child care, transportation, food banks, etc.)
  • Monthly social gatherings, workshops, and celebrations
  • On-campus employment and leadership opportunities
  • Regular check-ins with START program staff

How to apply for the START program 

To apply for the START program, students must complete the following:

  1. Complete START program Application Form
  2. Schedule an in-take appointment with START program coordinator
  3. Provide verification that you are/were in court ordered out-of-home care placement for at least one day between the ages of 13-18

Contact START Foster Youth

Program Coordinator: Mercedes Lezama 

Office location: SSC 127, Pleasant Hill campus map 
Drop-in hours
(currently by phone):       
Mondays: 1 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Wednesdays: 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Fridays: 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Financial Aid Coordinator: Phoebe Keesey
Telephone: 925-969-2124
Office location: SSC 1st floor Financial Aid Office, Pleasant Hill campus map 
Drop-in hours: Tuesdays: 10 am - 2 pm
Wednesdays: 10 am - 2 pm
Counselor: Nikki London
Telephone: 925-332-0882 (temporary phone)
925-969-2218 (office phone temporarily not in use)
Office location: SSC 127, Pleasant Hill campus map 
Appointments by phone:  
to schedule)
Mondays: 10 am - 5 pm
Tuesdays: 10 am - 4 pm