Pacific alumnus helps Stockton secure $10.8 million grant

Grant Kirkpatrick

Grant Kirkpatrick ’19 is helping his adoptive city as a Lead for America fellow

Grant Kirkpatrick had a fast start to his career in local government, which he said was in part due to the experiences and opportunities he sought out at University of the Pacific.   

Five months prior to his graduation in May 2019, the Carlsbad, California native was selected as a Lead for America fellow in the Stockton City Manager’s Office. Kirkpatrick said he wanted to stay in his adoptive home of Stockton, but he needed to find his own way to make it happen. Going into his final year at Pacific, he approached his former internship supervisor at the Stockton’s mayor’s office about his desire to stay local, and quickly realized he would need to find his own funding source. Later that day, a friend shared an email about a fellowship through Lead for America.

“I threw my hat into the ring and one thing led to another and they selected me as a fellow,” said Kirkpatrick, who is interested in local government. “And thanks to my time (as an intern for) the city, I had a foot in the door.”

Kirkpatrick, who earned bachelor’s degrees in political science and religious studies, hit city hall’s floors running and in November was entrusted with leading the city’s effort to secure a grant from the Transformative Climate Communities (TCC) program.

“I was absolutely shocked when my boss told me to take a lead on this,” said Kirkpatrick, who served two years as ASuop president. “I was happy to be given such a significant project, but I was also daunted by the task ahead. Thankfully, I had the privilege to work with an incredible team of community-based partners and nonprofit stakeholders to pursue the opportunity.”

Kirkpatrick had plenty of responsibilities as the project lead, including overseeing the timely completion of all deliverables for the application, writing staff reports for the Stockton City Council, negotiating agreements with community-based partners, being a point of contact for the grantor, and ensuring the grant process went smoothly and that Stockton’s vision was clear.

In June, the efforts of the city and community-based partners paid off. The California Strategic Growth Council approved an award of $10.8 million to Stockton through the TCC program, which funds community-led development and infrastructure projects that achieve major environmental, health and economic benefits in California’s most disadvantaged communities.

Kirkpatrick said his time as a Pacific student and ASuop president prepared him for the work he is doing now. There are many direct lines from his job as ASuop president to his work with the grant, and he added that the educational experience at Pacific really revolves around practical knowledge and how to use it in professional settings.

“I have seen it translate to what I’m doing here,” he said.

Jeff Becker, associate professor and chair of the political science department, said Kirkpatrick was always somebody who was focused and interested in connecting what he did in the classroom to how it applied outside. He wasn’t just trying to chase down a question or parrot what was said in class, he had a real interest in having an impact and being engaged in his community and what issues mattered to that particular community.

Kirkpatrick credits professors like Becker and Alan Lenzi for their encouragement and creating space for students to ask questions and have conversations. Having access to those personal connections and experiences is exactly why Kirkpatrick chose to attend Pacific, he said. All the faculty members were incredible and the opportunities he was afforded, including securing an internship in Washington, D.C., and the city of Stockton, were made possible because of Pacific and its networks.

Before graduating Pacific, Kirkpatrick created the Leading Tigers Endowed Scholarship to encourage more students to seek leadership positions at the university. The scholarship, once fully funded, will be awarded to undergraduate students who have demonstrated leadership qualities through their involvement in a student club, organization or student government. To donate, contact Ray Cleverly at or 209.946.2359.