The University of California, Merced, has announced a $33,000 donation from Citi to support its Center for Educational Partnership's  Parent Empowerment Program — $10,000 will fund the continued support of high schools in Madera and $23,000 will be used to start a new program in Stanislaus County at Grace Davis, Modesto and Turlock high schools.
The University of California chose to locate its newest campus in Merced in hopes of increasing the number of San Joaquin Valley students who earn college degrees. In turn, UC Merced created its Center for Educational Partnerships (CEP) with the goal of effecting long-range improvement in the education of Valley students.
"CEP's focus has always been to increase the number of Valley high school students who are academically prepared for the rigors of college upon graduation," said Orquidea Largo, the center's director. "But we can't achieve that goal without helping students to garner the support of their parents."
Largo is quick to clarify that the problem isn't that Valley parents don't want their students to go to college — it's simply that they don't understand the details involved or how best to show their support. That's where the Parent Empowerment Program comes in.
Established in 2004 through a grant from the California Student Aid Commission and EdFund, the program gives parents the tools necessary to support their students' goals of attending and graduating from four-year universities. Parents attend eight sessions on university matters and have the opportunity to visit college and university campuses throughout the state. The workshops, which are offered to parents in their native languages, explain admissions requirements, the availability of financial assistance and what is expected of students upon enrolling in college.
Over the years, the financial corporation has shown a strong commitment to supporting educational programs that prepare students for college and careers.
“Citi is committed to expanding access to higher education for underserved individuals and families,” said Brian Hepburn, managing director and division manager for Citibank’s Growth Markets Division. “Education is at the heart of economic empowerment, and through the Center for Educational Partnerships’ innovative program more California students will have the opportunity to pursue a college degree.”
Madera's portion of the gift translates to 51 families who will be helped by the Parent Empowerment Program. However, the impact is even greater. Program parents who have more than one child become better equipped to support all of their children in attending college. The younger children benefit from seeing their older siblings strive for and earn college degrees.
"This gift means that we will be able to empower even more Valley parents in helping their students succeed in college," Largo said.