Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Bridging the Gap: The Role of Outreach Programs in Granting College Access to First Generation Students

Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

Bridging the Gap: The Role of Outreach Programs in Granting College Access to First Generation Students

Article excerpt


REACH Business Camp is an initiative by the College of Business and Public Management at the University of La Verne with a clear vision of reaching out to first generation, underserved junior high school students. The objective of this program is to put college within the reach of any student no matter how unattainable a goal it may seem, by giving them a taste of college life and study with dormitory stay, targeted, extra-curricular activities, and business classes instructed by the University's undergraduate and graduate business faculty. The choice of subject matter was determined by the pool of students electing to attend the program. That is, interested students indicated an existing interest in business studies but were not sure about acting on that interest due to lack of financial resources to attend college and/or not being familiar with the steps involved in successfully applying to colleges and for financial aid.

The program has gained a reputation of being among the best programs in motivating high school students to pursue college education as measured by the program's graduating students' inclinations to attend college (96% in 2007, 98% in 2008, 98% in 2009, and 98% in 2010), and by the demand to add more students from the existing, participating districts and other school districts who want to be part of it in the future.

Over the past 4 years more than 200 juniors from various Inland Southern California high schools participated in this three-week long program. Students were nominated by one or more of their school career counselors, teachers, assistant principles, or principles to participate in the program. Students were also interviewed by the program director to make sure they fit the program's criteria which included: (1) Students having shown an interest in business education but being at risk of not pursuing that interest at the university level; and (2) Students having the aptitude and discipline to pursue a university education (indicated by a grade point average of 2.5 or higher, and involvement in some extracurricular activities including service to the community or to school, but being discouraged because of (a) financial issues, (b) family commitments, and (c) not having considered attending university.


The program curriculum consisted of instruction in the areas of management and organization, marketing, economics, accounting and finance, business ethics, creating a business website, success skills, entrepreneurship, and environmental sustainability. Camp participants were also exposed to college Admissions and Financial Aid through two workshops delivered by 2 University of La Verne counselors; and two SAT sessions (one on English & one on Math).

The program also featured motivational speakers including the State of California Assembly member Norma Torres; the Mayor of the city of Ontario Mr. Paul Leon; the Chief Executive Officer of the Webb Family Enterprises (a franchise owner of 11 McDonald's restaurants in the Inland Valley region of Southern California) and the Chairperson of the Global Operator Leadership Council for the McDonalds Corporation Mr. Reggie Webb; the former Superintendent of Rialto Unified School District Ms. Edna Davis-Herring; the Chief Administrative Officer of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California Mr. Gilbert Ivey, the President of the University of La Verne Dr. Steve Morgan; the Mayor of the city of La Verne Mr. Don Kendrick in addition to many other community and business leaders.

To achieve its goals and make the program entertaining, students participated in other extra- curricular activities including field trips to the Metropolitan Water District's "MWD" of Southern California's Weymouth treatment plant and Diamond Valley Lake; attended a concert at the Hollywood Bowl; watched a baseball game at the Quakes stadium; visited the Jet Propulsion Laboratory "JPL"; and spent a half a day at the Getty Museum. …

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