Grant Lifts COCC’s Latino, Native American College Prep Programs


A recently awarded, two-year, $175,000 grant from the Meyer Memorial Trust’s Equitable Education portfolio will help drive Central Oregon Community College’s (COCC) efforts to enhance college preparedness programs and promote college success for regional Latino and Native American high school students. Funds will be used to continue and build upon high school partnerships and summer symposiums under the stewardship of COCC’s Office of Multicultural Activities.

In Oregon, for the 2015-2016 school year, the Latino high school graduation rate was 69.4 percent (compared with 76.6 percent for white students), while the Native American state high school graduation rate was 56.4 percent, representing the third lowest nationally. COCC’s college preparation programs have sought to raise those numbers by reaching out to regional high school students and mentoring them to stay on the educational path with inspiration and direction.

The Equitable Education grant will restart existing programs beginning in January of 2018; funding for all programming will impact some 130 students per year. The college’s existing Latino College Preparation Program, or “Avanza,” will continue its mentorship and resource role with Bend High School, Mountain View High School, Redmond High School, Ridgeview High School and Crook County High School, while adding service to Madras and Culver high schools. Students earn one hour of transferrable college credit for each Avanza course they complete. The Avanza program coordinator’s role will increase to full-time, allowing for added class sessions and school interactions.

The existing Native American College Preparation Program, or “The Good Road,” will restart its involvement at Redmond High School, Madras High School and the Roots Alternative Education Program at Warm Springs. The grant creates a new half-time coordinator position.

Additionally, two multi-day summer symposiums—“Ganas” for Latino students and “STRIVE” for Native American students—where high school students stay at the Bend campus and get a feel for college life while developing academic and leadership skills, will continue for one summer each.

The current programs morphed from a statewide effort called the Oregon Leadership Institute that sought to build college prep skills for Latino high school students. Karen Roth, director of COCC’s Office of Multicultural Activities, guided the launch of the budding programs five years ago and is thrilled for continued funding (which refresh funds from a Higher Education Coordinating Commission grant that ended in June). “It’s exciting for how we partner with the local school districts and it’s exciting for Latino and Native American students and their families,” she said. “And it’s really great news for our college.”

Long-term, measuring high school and college graduation rates is key to assessing the programs. But for now, positive data is coming in: “We know that all the seniors who attended Ganas have come to COCC for the last two years,” added Roth.
Karen Roth, 541-383-7412,


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