WELI – Women’s Community College Support Program

Women’s Education & Leadership Institute (WELI) is designed to increase the leadership capacity, workforce skills, and college completion rates of women in the Salinas Valley.
WELI supports female students who are socially, educationally and economically disadvantaged, especially those who are single parents and re-entry students.

-Each year, 25 women are selected to participate in the program.
-The Women’s Education and Leadership Institute (WELI) Program is a cohort based program created by local women leaders to support female students of Hartnell College.
-The women are given a $2,000 dollar scholarship and participate in an intensive training for life skills and build them over the semester.
-WELI works with female community business leaders and professionals to develop curriculum and create employment opportunities for WELI graduates; Hartnell faculty, staff, and administrators.
-Female Hartnell students who need support as they come into and through community college, and women in the community who wish to become mentors.
-Women community leaders provide input serve on the WELI scholarship committee and lead fundraising and program development efforts.providing support and resources to help programs give children the best care and early education possible through the QRIS Quality Continuum Framework.

Measure Success

WELI measures longitudinal success of participants by examining what percentage of participants remain in college (persistence), pass their courses (success), and graduate with a certificate or degree (completion).


Since it’s inception in 2011, WELI has awarded $325,000 in scholarships to seven cohorts (175 women total) and has engaged over 50 women leaders as volunteer presenters and mentors.
A six year analysis of program participants (2011 to 2016) revealed the following results:
Overall Hartnell Course success: 86%
Overall Hartnell Retention: 91%
Overall Fall to Spring Persistence: 88%
The following data is the completion rate based on cohort year:
2011 cohort: 72% completed a certificate or degree
2012 cohort: 81% completed a certificate or degree
2013 cohort: 88% completed a certificate or degree
2014 cohort: 85% completed a certificate or degree
2015 cohort: 52% completed a certificate or degree*
2016 cohort: 42% completed a certificate or degree*

Why This Matters

The WELI Program increases retention and graduation rates for women through life skills training, mentoring, financial awards, and ongoing support and engagement activities.  

What’s Next?
“The ideal scenario would be that [the women] return as mentors,” explains Moreno.
However, simply sustaining WELI as is would be a success.
Through the generous support of the community, the program is very close to growing a self-sustaining endowment which will provide scholarships to future cohorts, which is the first step in this sustainability.  


Female College Students


Hartnell; Women’s Education & Leadership Institute

Sponsoring Organizations