Students at Hector Godinez Fundamental High School
Under the new program, Santa Ana students – such as these at Hector Godinez Fundamental High School – who qualify are guaranteed transfer admission to UCI from Santa Ana College. Godinez graduate and ¡Adelante! participant Ivan Padilla says, “College is necessary not only to be successful in life but also to grow as an individual.” Michelle S. Kim / University Communications

Latinos are the fastest-growing student demographic in the United States, and their education is important to the future of the nation’s economy. UC Irvine is part of a new collaboration designed to boost college attendance among Latinos in key metropolitan areas.

The private, independent Lumina Foundation, based in Indianapolis, has agreed to provide $7.2 million over a four-year period to 12 partnerships in 10 states with significant and expanding Latino populations. Its overall aim is to increase the number of Americans with college degrees and professional credentials to 60 percent by 2025.

UCI’s Center for Educational Partnerships is collaborating in the Santa Ana ¡Adelante! initiative, which guarantees qualifying Santa Ana Unified School District students transfer admission to UCI or California State University, Fullerton from Santa Ana College.

“Our university has worked proudly with our Santa Ana Partnership colleagues for more than 20 years, supporting the educational aspirations of students from Santa Ana,” says UCI Chancellor Michael Drake. “UC Irvine is committed to ensuring access for talented young people in this community, and this initiative will help us make that a reality.”

According to Lumina, half the nation’s workers will be of Latino descent by 2025, and by then, 63 percent of all jobs in the U.S. will require some form of postsecondary education or training. “The goal of ¡Adelante! is to have a college degree in every Santa Ana home by 2020. We want many of those degrees come from UC Irvine,” Drake says.

The outreach effort starts in sixth grade, when students and their parents sign an “I’m going to college” pledge. Benefits include college-bound activities in ninth through 12th grade; priority registration for Santa Ana College; specialized transfer planning from SAC to UCI or CSUF with application workshops, individualized case management and peer mentoring; bridging services once SAC students advance to universities; and guaranteed funding assistance for all participants with unmet need.

Ivan Padilla, a current Santa Ana College student, expects to transfer to UCI and study computer science with the help of the ¡Adelante! program. “College is necessary not only to be successful in life but also to grow as an individual,” says Padilla, a graduate of Hector Godinez Fundamental High School.

He’s the first person in his family to attend college and believes his education will benefit his family and community. “My mother loves the fact that I’m in college,” Padilla says. “She always pushed me to do my best.”

Stephanie Reyes-Tuccio, director of UCI’s Center for Educational Partnerships, notes that the program provides much-needed academic and social support at a discouraging time.

“Students are receiving a lot of ‘no’ messages in terms of the escalating costs of higher education, difficulty obtaining classes, increasing competitiveness and scarcity of seats at four-year institutions,” she says. “¡Adelante! is sending a ‘yes’ message to them about their ability to pursue their academic goals.”