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Catalyst Grant to Provide Hope, Opportunity for Undocumented Students and Families

October 18, 2018

UC Merced has long served as an educational opportunity for undocumented students and their families. A new grant will ensure the university can help more scholars realize their academic, career and personal goals.

UC Merced is one of 32 campuses that will receive support this academic year from the new California Campus Catalyst Fund. To date, the Catalyst Fund has raised nearly $10 million for a three-year initiative founded by educators, funders and advocates.

The fund increases support for undocumented students and their families on campuses representing the state’s three public higher education systems: California Community Colleges, California State University and the University of California.

UC Merced has the most ethnically and culturally diverse student body — and the highest percentage of undocumented students — among all UC campuses. Support from this fund will enable the university to provide more programs and services for undocumented students and their families.

“The opportunity for the campus to extend its efforts and coordinate programs with the surrounding community is an important reflection of the campus’ commitment,” said Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Charles Nies. “The grant provides the campus with the opportunity to provide regular information on immigration related matters, support college aspiration among undocumented youth, and expand the network of support for undocumented students in the Central Valley.”

With help from the Catalyst Fund, UC Merced has proposed additional services that include:

  • an UndocuGrad conference, a statewide conference for undocumented students focused on graduate and professional school preparation and admissions;
  • outreach to local community colleges regarding research and career planning programs; and
  • partnering with the local regional Migrant Education Program to provide workshops, resources and group campus visits to UC Merced for students and their families.

Currently, UC Merced offers resources that include an UndocuBobcat newsletter for students and their families, academic and social support, and counseling and legal support. These resources are coordinated through Services for Undocumented Students within the Calvin E. Bright Success Center.

The university also offers programs including Knowledge Empowers You (KEY) and UndocuScholars Academy. KEY follows Summer Orientation and is intended for incoming undocumented students and their families to share necessary information about health insurance, financial aid and the resources the university offers to support student success.

UndocuScholars Academy is a six-week, small-group, interactive career seminar managed by the Center for Career and Professional Advancement to empower undocumented students.

The majority of the university’s current funding comes from the Undocumented Students Initiative launched by UC President Janet Napolitano in 2013. Since then, UC Merced has hired a full time coordinator to work with students to develop programs and initiatives.

“UC Merced is committed to our undocumented scholars through both resources and advocacy,” Nies said. “We will work collaboratively with others to advance these efforts and increase campus support.”