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Grant Supports Teachers' Desert Program


Irvine Foundation Grant to Fund Coachella Valley Teacher Enhancement Program

UCR’s ALPHA Center will use grant to bring teachers’ mathematics academy to the desert

(April 12, 2005)

Teachers explore the connections between knot theory, celtic knots, and wheat weaving.

Teachers explore the connections between knot theory, celtic knots, and wheat weaving.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — www.ucr.edu — A two-year, $200,000 grant from the Irvine Foundation will bring a popular Riverside-area mathematics academy to teachers in the Coachella Valley this summer, University of California, Riverside officials announced today.

The grant was awarded to the UC Riverside Foundation and is being earmarked for the desert programs carried out by the Academy of Learning through Partnerships for Higher Achievement (ALPHA) Center, which offers its programs free of charge.

“It couldn’t come at a better time,” said ALPHA Center Executive Director Pamela Clute, who is also the Assistant Vice Provost for Academic Outreach and Educational Partnerships at UCR. “We’ll be able to offer this program for the first time ever, at a UCR facility in the Coachella Valley,” she said referring to the just-completed UCR Palm Desert campus, which will be the site for the July 18 through 22 Mathematics Academy for Teaching Excellence (MATE).

The more than 40 teachers taking part in MATE will be the first to see and use the two-building satellite campus of UCR at the corner of Frank Sinatra Drive and Cook Street. A group of invited guests will attend an April 15 community preview and ribbon cutting event at UCR Palm Desert, which is expected to host its first class of MBA and Master’s of Fine Arts candidates on Sept. 29.

Desert MATE will run concurrently with another ALPHA program at UCR Palm Desert titled Girls Excelling in Mathematics with Success (GEMS). The timing will offer teachers an opportunity to apply what they’ve just learned to a classroom setting and expose girls to new and exciting ways to learn mathematics.

“The fact that it’s on a college campus makes the experience all the more impressive and plants the seeds of college in the (students’) minds,” Clute added. Previous desert GEMS sessions have been held at middle schools in the Coachella Valley.

The desert MATE program is open to middle-school and high-school teachers in the desert region and will provide them with enriched mathematics content, new and exciting ways to teach mathematics, and will offer discussions on research issues related to student achievement and teacher development. Algebra, geometry and analysis form the core of the program.

Teachers from the Palm Springs, Coachella and Desert Sands school districts, as well as from the Imperial Valley and from the College of the Desert, have signed up for the desert MATE program.

“This program serves a geographic area that has a high proportion of minority students and has historically performed poorly in standardized tests, two criteria the Irvine Foundation values when selecting projects to support,” Clute said.

MATE program participants are exposed to useful, mathematics-rich interactive classroom ideas. They are given a stipend along with a professional library of resource materials to help them put those new ideas into practice in the classroom. Participants are also encouraged and expected to share the information learned in this academy with interested people such as parents, other teachers, community leaders, administrators and students.

The ALPHA Center was established in 1998 to increase the historically low rate of college-qualified high school graduates from inland Southern California and, once enrolled in college, to ensure their success. At the time, one in three Inland Empire high school students qualified for college, well below the 60 percent statewide and 65 percent national averages.

In partnership with other educational institutions, the ALPHA Center answers this need by creating programs, which prepare students to enter and excel in college. Recognizing the importance of quality teaching, the ALPHA Center also provides professional development for teachers. Grants and foundations have also supported research on how students learn and which teaching methods are most effective, especially in the high-need areas of mathematics and Science.

The ALPHA Center began offering programs in the Coachella Valley in 2002 and will, for the first time, offer two of its programs this summer from the campus at UCR Palm Desert.

Student and teacher-based ALPHA programs have reached more than 119,400 students, 9,900 teachers and 845 administrators and impacted approximately 190 schools in Riverside, San Bernardino, Imperial and eastern Los Angeles counties.

The University of California, Riverside (www.ucr.edu) is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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