School-University Partnership to Suffer From UC Budget Funding Cuts

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Campus-based outreach programs for underprivileged K-12 students will grapple with heavy funding cuts this year-a result of the recently approved state budget and increased skepticism from legislators on their effectiveness.

A large portion of the $7.6 million cut to UC will fall on the School-University Partnership Program, whereby UC Berkeley works with Bay Area high schools to provide students with academic enrichment programs, says UC spokesperson Brad Hayward.

ArtsBridge, an arts educational outreach program, will also lose a substantial proportion of its funding, he adds.

But other retention programs, such as UC Berkeley's Black Recruitment and Retention Center and RAZA Recruitment and Retention Center will "remain largely intact," says Richard Black, assistant vice chancellor for admissions and enrollment.

The budget cuts may limit opportunities for interaction with UC Berkeley students, academic enrichment and tutoring for K-12 students, says Gail Kaufman, director of School-University Partnership Program.

"We can't abandon the kids and commitment altogether," says David Stark, general director of Stiles Hall, a campus program which supports a number of tutoring and outreach programs. "But we can't provide what we were providing."

Bay Area Urban Debate, Poetry for the People, Break the Cycle and Project First are among the programs that will either suffer large cuts or will no longer receive university or state funding.

I Have a Dream, a mentoring program at McClymonds and Oakland Technical high schools, will lose $10,000 in funding from UC.

"I think this a life-changing program for myself," says UC Berkeley senior and mentor Jonathan Lim.

Lim says his work with the program has made positive changes in the children he mentors. He was paired with one student more than two years ago and has since established a close friendship with him.

"When I first started with him, he may not have gone on to the next grade level," Lim says. "He told me last month that he wants to go to college."

In response to state budget cuts, programs are looking elsewhere for funding, including the federal government, faculty donations and private institutions, Black says.

Although the university has not been the sole funding source for outreach programs, university money constitutes a large portion of support, he adds.

The cut comes at a time when critics have been questioning the effectiveness of outreach programs, citing a lack of data showing that outreach efforts have had substantial impact on expanding access to higher education.

"Basic data is not forthcoming: the number of students in certain programs, the number of hours of service, and we think some of these are pretty easy to obtain," says Jennifer Kuhn, a senior fiscal and policy analyst for the California Legislative Analyst's Office. "We should have been getting better preliminary data, but we should not be quick to criticize them for not getting dramatic results."

But outreach program directors say expanding access to underserved youth is a long process and cannot be fixed with a quick solution.

"I think it's too short term at how they're looking for results," Stark says. "There are eight-year and 10-year programs, and in terms of making a real impact on disadvantaged youth, the only way you're going to have an impact is if you're with a kids over long periods time."

Kuhn says outreach programs across the state are inefficient because several agencies provide identical or similar services to students. Programs administered by high schools rather than UC may be more equipped to assess students' academic needs, she says.

Program directors, however, say the university is in a better position to show underprivileged students the benefits of a college degree and enable them access to higher education.

"There are many outreach programs because there's a tremendous need out there," Kaufman says. "It's a very strong message that UC Berkeley sends because we have faculty and undergraduate students working (at K-12 schools) on a regular basis."

Legislators are also concerned with the type of students who are being approached by outreach programs.

The demand for such programs from disadvantaged youth is high, Stark says. Many waiting lists are four times as long as the available space, he adds.

"We have many underserved schools in the local area and therefore, we've concentrated our resources on them," Black says.

But Kuhn says UC must redirect its recruitment policy to prioritize targeting students who would not consider going to college, Kuhn says.

"Let's not just get students with 3.5 GPA's," she adds. "But let's get the students who might otherwise not to go college to go to any UC campus or CSU campus."


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