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September 5 , 2005

Grants totaling $16.3 million bolster Educational Partnership Center collaboration to increase college-going rates

By Jennifer McNulty

More than 3,000 sixth and seventh graders will see the path to college more clearly thanks to $16.3 million in federal funds that the UCSC Educational Partnership Center and three local school districts will administer.

Photo: tutoring
Former EPC tutor Julian Velarde helps a Watsonville High School student as part of the center's first Gear-Up partnership with Pajaro Valley schools.

The federal grants, provided over the next six years by the U.S. Department of Education's Gaining Early Awareness & Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR-UP) initiative, will provide academic preparation and support for students in the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District (MPUSD), North Monterey County Unified School District (NMCUSD), and Pajaro Valley Unified School District (PVUSD).

“Beginning in sixth grade, we introduce students to college and focus on improving their math and language arts skills," said Carrol Moran, executive director of the Educational Partnership Center (EPC) at UCSC. "We help students aspire to college and ensure that they have the academic preparation that allows them to live their dream. GEAR-UP helps us support these students from sixth grade through high school."

Established in 1998, the EPC has more than doubled college-going rates among its partner schools in Monterey, San Benito, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz Counties.

With the infusion of new funds, students in the high school graduating classes of 2011 and 2012 at participating schools will benefit from augmented services beginning this fall, including:

• academic counseling from middle school through high school;

• a family involvement coordinator who will provide parent education and information about college and financial aid;

• a college-awareness curriculum for middle school teachers, who will also receive additional training in mathematics and language arts instruction;

• undergraduate academic interns who will serve as tutors and mentors for students throughout middle and high school;

• opportunities for students and families to tour college campuses and attend programs that build their knowledge about college.

"Our school board and professional staff are thrilled to be able to team up with UCSC and provide this support to our students and their families," said Keith Parkhurst, superintendent of NMCUSD, which is sharing a $9.8 million grant with MPUSD to reach nearly 2,000 students.

Another 1,400 students in the PVUSD and at Alianza Charter School will benefit from a $6.5 million award that will build on the success of a previous GEAR-UP grant--now in its sixth and final year--administered by the EPC in Pajaro Valley.

"These grants represent an important endorsement of the EPC's work," said Francisco Hernandez, vice chancellor of student affairs at UCSC. "The Educational Partnership Center has led the UC system in teaming up with K-12 schools to open the doors to college for the next generation."

In addition to the three school districts, the following organizations have contributed to the GEAR-UP initiative: Thomson Peterson's; Imagine College; CTB McGraw-Hill; the Monterey and Santa Cruz County Offices of Education; the UCSC Mathematics, Science, and Engineering Achievement Program; Cabrillo College Advancement Program; the Santa Cruz Community Credit Union; the UC College Prep Initiative; the Pajaro Valley Latino Business Association; Migration and Immigration in the Americas Foundation; Bridging Multiple Worlds; and the UCSC Early Academic Outreach Program. 

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