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South Merced’s Underserved Students to Benefit from Grant to UC Merced

December 18, 2006

MERCED - The University of California, Merced, received funding
to further a relationship with the Boys and Girls Club of Merced
County, the Community Partnership Alliance and local schools, and
to establish two academic enrichment programs and a parent program.

The $30,000 grant from the University of California Office of
the President will support the South Merced University-Community
Engagement Initiative.

“This grant-funding opportunity was highly competitive,” said
Barbara Roberts, Coordinator for University-Community Engagement
for the UC Office of the President, in a letter to UC Merced. “We
commend the efforts of our UC Merced campus colleagues and
community partners for their commitment to developing and
sustaining rigorous programs … to raise student achievement
levels and close achievement gaps.”

A summer enrichment program will offer math instruction to 60
low-income, first-generation students entering the ninth grade in
fall 2007. Organizers hope to help students be better prepared for
high-school-level math, increasing the odds that they will also be
better prepared for college.

During the 2007-08 school year, 50 low-income, first-generation
10th-graders will receive more instruction in math and English
language arts. This enriched teaching is designed to help them
prepare for and pass the California High School Exit Exam.

The third program is designed to help parents understand college
eligibility, how financial aid works, how to get their children on
the college track and keep them there and more.

“We’re committed to building effective university-community
partnerships,” said Jorge Aguilar, Special Assistant to the
Chancellor and Director of the UC Merced Center for Educational
Partnerships. “We want to foster a sustainable commitment to
policies and actions that stretch beyond our campus walls and
benefit area residents.”

UC Merced and the Community Partnership Alliance have a signed
pact to work together with different groups and agencies in the
Merced area to ensure the academic, cultural and economic benefits
of UC Merced are shared by all.

“This project demonstrates the initiative of UC Merced leaders
to leverage their academic strength to bring much-needed funding
and programs into our community,” said Steve Roussos, president of
the Community Partnership Alliance. “It also illustrates the shared
strategy of the Community Partnership Alliance and UC Merced to
co-facilitate community change through established and trustworthy
organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club.”

Aguilar meets monthly with the Alliance, and they came up with
this plan to help students often disregarded because of
educational, economic, language and cultural barriers.

The students who will take part in the program are from South
Merced, an area of the city with the highest concentration of
minorities. The 2000 Census shows that South Merced is the only
area in the city where whites do not constitute more than 50
percent of the population. In fact, 44.5 percent of Merced’s
population is non-Latino white, while South Merced’s non-Latino
white population is only 9.2 percent.

Because it’s based in South Merced, the Boys and Girls Club of
Merced County is a natural partner, too. The club has 1,022 youth
members, ages 6-18, and offers programs that help develop
self-esteem and sense of usefulness as citizens.

This funding comes at an important time for the Boys and Girls
Club, as it is actively searching for funding to expand its
programs to improve youth interest and preparedness for higher
education.