Campus: CSU, Northridge -- July 12, 2000

CSUN Hosting Free Summer Academic Program for Valley's Low-Income Middle School Students

About 200 mostly low-income students from nine San Fernando Valley middle schools are getting special academic preparations this summer that should improve their chances for college through a free, five-week enrichment program being offered by Cal State Northridge.

The Los Angeles Unified School District students, most of whom would be the first in their families to attend college, volunteered for the summer program and were selected based on their applications and school recommendations. The special CSUN enrichment program began this week and will continue through August 12.

"This is a summer enrichment-advancement program. It's not remediation," said Ludim Seja De Manzano, CSUN's director of student outreach and recruitment services. "These students are all in very good standing at their schools and have good grades. But we want them to be ready for college preparatory classes and be successful at them."

The overall goal of the program is to ensure that low-income middle school students from the San Fernando Valley are ready for the college preparatory classes they will face in high school. Unless the students can successfully complete those high school classes, they will have difficulty gaining admission to Cal State campuses and other universities.

Seja De Manzano said CSUN is one of only a few locations in the 23-campus California State University system to run a free, university-based summer academic enrichment program for middle school students. She added that the algebra and geometry components of the program are the only no-cost summer programs of their kind offered in the CSU system.

Participating middle school students enroll in one of three different segments of the special CSUN summer program. Each component involves three different classes that are held Mondays through Fridays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the university, along with some field trips. The program also includes daily bus transportation between the students' home schools and the CSUN campus.

One segment with about 125 youngsters is the Summer Academic Institute (SAI), which includes an English class, a pre-algebra class and a science class. About 50 students in an Algebra Readiness Academy (ARA) are taking a for-credit algebra readiness class, a computer class and a general college preparation class. About 25 students in a Geometry Readiness Academy (GRA) are taking geometry, computer and college readiness classes.

Participating seventh, eighth and ninth grade students either attend or have just graduated from the following LAUSD middle schools: Byrd, Maclay, Olive Vista, Porter, Portola, Sepulveda, San Fernando, Pacoima and Walter Reed. The classes at CSUN, taught by LAUSD and CSUN faculty members, are being held in the university's Business Administration complex.

Seja De Manzano said the university is able to offer the special summer program at no cost to the students and their families through the state-funded Pre-collegiate Academic Development (PAD) program for eight of the schools, and through the federally funded GEAR UP program at Walter Reed. Both programs aim to enhance the academic achievement of middle school students.

The CSUN program has proven so popular with local students and their families that it has been expanding each year, Seja De Manzano said. The university began with just the Summer Academic Institute in 1996 for about two dozen students, then added the algebra component last summer and then expanded again this summer with the geometry component.

This year's summer program will end with a breakfast awards recognition ceremony at CSUN's University Club lawn on Saturday, Aug. 12, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Students and parents will be acknowledged with certificates for successful completion of the program.

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