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$1.3 Million Federal Grant for Eastside Outreach

UC Riverside Outreach Program Earns $1.3 Million Federal Grant

Project to Focus on Language Arts and Reforestation in San Bernardino Mountains

(June 14, 2004)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( -- A University of California, Riverside student outreach effort is looking forward to a wilderness rescue: It comes in the form of a $1.3 million replenishment after a tough year of slashed state funds and scorched hopes, and offers a chance to do some good for kids and the environment.

The Corporation for National and Community Service in Washington, D.C., has awarded the University/Eastside Community Collaborative federal grants of $464,933 in each of the coming three academic years to support the group’s public service programs in language arts and environmental science, said Lucia Ortega-Villasana, director of the UECC Center for Public Service.

The national public service program UECC Americorps is getting ready to recruit 90 UCR students and 500 community members to work with primary and secondary pupils in Riverside’s Eastside neighborhood, where many families have relatively low incomes and some do not speak English fluently. The project will put an intense focus on language arts, environmental science and botany, Ortega-Villasana said. Students will have classroom lessons, she said, but also will learn about nature and do hands-on reforestation in a separate project in the San Bernardino Mountains, which last year were ravaged by wildfires.

Students will be chosen for academics or outdoor activities, Ortega-Villasana said, and some will do both. Lessons will coordinate with the state’s standards for each grade level involved. The project is aimed at children in fourth through 10th grades.

“This (the grant) has given just an absolute ray of hope for us to continue our outreach in the community,” Ortega-Villasana said.

The team behind the 6-year-old effort, drawn from UC Riverside, the mayor’s and city managers’ offices and the Riverside Unified School District, got a big shock when its funding suffered “horrible cuts” last year, she said.

Getting more money meant working fast to build a proposal and guide it through state and federal application processes. Ortega-Villasana credited the Chancellor’s Office, the city and the school district for holding the effort together through the funding drought. She named several team members who did the work to win the $1.3 million: Debbie Ausman, principal at Fremont Elementary School; Robert Ferrett, who recently retired as director of educational accountability for the school district; Troy Brown of the City Manager’s Office; Terrie Boudreaux, a UCR student affairs analyst; David Serrano in the university’s contracts office; and consultant Anna Maria de Mars, who evaluated the proposal.


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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