$10.5 million education grant will help UC Santa Cruz prepare students for college

grant-epc-500px.jpg
The GEAR UP funding continues the Educational Partnership Center’s focus on improving high school graduation and college-enrollment and attainment rates for low-income, first-generation college students across the Monterey Bay and Silicon Valley/San Jose regions.

The Educational Partnership Center at UC Santa Cruz has been awarded $10.5 million over seven years to help middle and high school students in south Monterey County prepare for college.

The EPC’s “Paving a Path for a College-Going Generation” project plans to serve 1,930 at-risk, underrepresented students in the predominantly agricultural towns of Gonzales, Greenfield, Soledad, and King City. The U.S. Department of Education received 122 partnership applications and awarded 24 partnership grants nationwide. 

The GEAR UP funding continues the Educational Partnership Center’s focus on improving high school graduation and college-enrollment and attainment rates for low-income, first-generation college students across the Monterey Bay and Silicon Valley/San Jose regions, said EPC Executive Director Maria Rocha-Ruiz.

“This funding will allow us to help underrepresented students in South Monterey County get on the path to college eligibility and realize their dream of graduating from college,” Rocha-Ruiz said. “We are looking forward to continuing our partnership in South Monterey County to widen the impact and build upon the foundation of the work already achieved, further building upon the existing college-going community for students and their families."

EPC will work with partner organizations Boys & Girls Clubs of Monterey County, Bright Futures Education Partnership for Monterey County, City of Gonzales, Gonzales Unified School District, Greenfield Union School District, Hartnell Community College, King City Union School District, Monterey County Free Libraries, Soledad Unified School District and South Monterey County Joint Union High School District as part of its GEAR UP program (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs).

Within the region to be served, only 5 percent of the population holds B.A./B.S. degrees or higher. Among the students enrolled in partner middle and high schools, 35 percent are designated English Learners, 38 percent are proficient or higher in English, only 13 percent are proficient or higher in math, and only 13 percent are assessed into college-level math, all factors which affect prospects for college graduation and college-based careers. Only 30 percent of graduating students currently enroll in college.

EPC has identified three goals for its program: 1) increase students’ academic performance and preparation for postsecondary education; 2) increase high school graduation and enrollment in postsecondary education; and 3) increase educational expectations for students as well as student and family knowledge of postsecondary options, preparation, and financing.

Students will receive customized college and career advising; financial aid advising; comprehensive mentoring; academic tutoring; grade-relevant college and career curriculum; plus services that extend and enrich the school day and year, such as summer academies, and early college experiences; referrals to essential college support services at their respective colleges; and improved instruction designed to prepare all students for college and careers.

The Educational Partnership Center coordinates student academic preparation efforts of UC Santa Cruz with the goal of increasing access and opportunity to postsecondary education for students across the Monterey Bay and Silicon Valley/San Jose regions.