The Puente Project is an academic preparation program that for almost 30 years has improved the college-going rate of tens of thousands of California’s educationally disadvantaged students. The Puente Project has won the Innovation in American Government Award, part of the Ford Foundation’s award program administered by the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in partnership with the Council for Excellence in Government.
Puente was founded in 1981 by Counselor, Felix Galaviz and English Instructor, Patricia McGrath at Chabot College in Hayward. The program was launched as a grassroots initiative to address the low rate of academic achievement among Mexican American and Latino students. In reviewing over 2,000 high school transcripts, Galaviz and McGrath discovered three key patterns among Latino students:
• Students were avoiding academic counseling
• Students were not enrolling in college-level writing courses
• Students were the first in their families to attend college
The Puente Model
Galaviz and McGrath’s model, designed to address these three problems, consists of:
a) rigorous language arts instruction
b) sustained academic counseling
c) mentoring by members of the professional community
Based on its success, the Puente Model has been replicated in 59 community college sites throughout California and 33 California high schools.
PUENTE PROGRAM AT MERRITT COLLEGE
Puente was welcomed to Merritt College in 1997. While the focus is on Latino literature and topics, this program welcomes students from all ethnic, cultural, and linguistic backgrounds.
As a student of this program you will:
• Take a year of accelerated English classes with a curricular focus on Latino literature and experience.
• Meet frequently with your Puente counselor to develop and monitor a student educational plan (SEP) for personal/career counseling until you are ready to transfer.
• Meet professionals from the community who will share their knowledge and experience with you.
• Experience cultural and socially conscious-raising events and activities
• Assist your community through various volunteer projects.
• Develop leadership skills by participating in the Puente Club.
• Experience educational field trips to universities each year and attend an annual statewide Transfer Motivational Conference.
Phase I: Fall Semester, Year One
English 201 A/B (4 units):
Preparation for Composition and Reading–Introduction to college-level reading and writing of expository prose.
Counseling 224 (2 units):
College Preparedness—Acquisition of college success skills
Phase II: Spring Semester
English 1A (4 units):
Composition and Reading (Transfer Level)—Reading and writing expository prose
Counseling 221 (1 unit):
Preparing for College/University Transfer—In-depth information and assistance with the transfer process to four-year colleges and universities
Phase III: Fall Semester (Until Transfer)
Images in Motion Learning Community, Title III
English 5 (3 units)
Mexican/Latin American Studies 30 A (3 units)
Survey of Latino Films (Professor Claudio Duran)
Continuous Academic Guidance
The Puente Project is a writing, mentoring, and counseling program to prepare students to transfer to four-year institutions. The goal of the program is to increase the number of Puente students who graduate from high school, enroll in four-year colleges and universities, and return to the community as mentors and leaders to future generations.
As the original learning community, Puente integrates the skills of an English teacher, a counselor and a mentor into a team structure which supports students in pursuing their academic and career goals. Most Puente mentors are professionals from the business, government and educational communities. Evaluations of Puente students show that they significantly improved their writing skills and are succeeding academically, they state that their mentors have helped them achieve success.
Isela Gonzalez Santana (English Instructor)
Phone: 510 436-2648
Juana Martinez-Rodriguez (counselor)
Office: R105H (one-stop center)
Phone: 510 434-3943
OPEN TO ALL STUDENTS WHO WANT TO TRANSFER