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UCR to Spend $3.3 Million for Outreach to Low-Income Students

UCR to Spend $3.3 Million for Outreach to Low-Income Students

The two-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education is the first of its kind awarded in the University of California system.

(October 15, 2008)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( -- In a major coup, UC Riverside has won a $3.3 million federal grant to bring more Hispanic and low-income students into science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.

The two-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education is the first of its kind awarded in the University of California system, said David Fairris, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education.

The federal grant will fund a major expansion of UC Riverside outreach programs, all aimed at making success stories for Hispanic and low-income students who transfer from community colleges to UCR to study science, technology, engineering or mathematics (called STEM courses). Six community colleges, all within commuting distance of UCR and with a combined enrollment of nearly 36,000 Hispanic students, are partners in UCR’s STEM Pathway Project.

Pathway Project highlights include:
• Intensive outreach programs that will place UCR teams on the six Southern California community college campuses — College of the Desert, Pasadena City College, Mt. San Antonio College, and the Riverside, Moreno Valley and Norco campuses of Riverside Community College District — reaching up to 1,200 students weekly;
• Signed contracts that will guarantee Hispanic or low-income transfer students admission to UCR as science, technology, engineering or math majors;
• A new Resource Center for transfer students that will open on the UCR campus in 2009;
• A summer academic Bridge program, paid research internships, workshops and other continuing support once the students are on campus, to help them succeed. “The programs are about feeling welcome, feeling encouraged, and feeling they can do it,” Fairris said.

From start to finish, the multiple Pathway Project programs focus on encouraging and preparing Hispanic and low-income students to make the leap from community colleges into the university laboratories and classrooms; easing and smoothing their transition; and then working with them on campus to help snare success, said Melba Schneider Castro, UCR’s director of First Year Success Programs.

Further, through the grant, UCR becomes the first university in the UC system to receive the federal education designation of Hispanic-Serving Institution, which means the university will be eligible to apply for other grants to better serve these students, Castro said.

UC Riverside is already the fifth most diverse major research university in the nation, according to U.S. News and World Report. UCR enrollment numbers show that Hispanic and low-income students represent nearly half the university’s undergraduate population; Hispanic students represent about 27 percent.

Yet nationally, Hispanic and low-income students are traditionally underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics labs and classrooms — and eventually, the national work force. For example, Science and Engineering Indicators, 2004, reported that Hispanics account for only 3.2 percent of the nation’s engineering and science work force. Those numbers are what UCR and its partners in the Pathway Project hope to change.

The University of California, Riverside ( 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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