Campus: Sonoma State University -- September 18, 2002

Migrant Workers Will Get A Boost To A Bachelor's Degree In Federal Grant To SSU And Junior Colleges

Migrant farm workers in the region will get a boost toward a bachelor's degree thanks to a $1.7 million grant from the federal government awarded to Sonoma State University and two junior colleges.

The university shares in the five-year College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) grant with Santa Rosa and Napa Valley junior colleges to address the needs of the more than 4,500 estimated K-12 students from migrant families in Napa and Sonoma counties.

Last year, only 58 students from a total of 1,200 12th grade students from the migrant farmworker population enrolled at Sonoma State University, Napa Valley College and SantaRosa Junior College combined.

"The primary goal is to help migrant students achieve a bachelor's degree," says the program's coordinator Dr. Francisco H. Vazquez, Director of the Hutchins Institute for Public Policy and Community Action at Sonoma State University. "The modern economy requires people to have higher skills than labor skills. This way the program is also benefiting the economy," Vazquez

The Collaborative CAMP not only recruits migrant students for college but also wants to ensure that the students will do well in classes instead of becoming part of the current state attrition rate for migrant students estimated at 70 per cent. The services that CAMP will provide include supportive and instructional services, assistance in obtaining student financial aid, housing support, and the help of tutors and mentors.

Collaborative CAMP is designed to include the families of migrant students in conversations regarding higher education. "This way, instead of feeling like they are losing a daughter or a son to the university, the families will feel involved in the learning process," Vazquez reports.

During the first year of operation, CAMP will recruit 60 migrant students with the goal of eventually establishing a self-sustaining network of successful former Collaborative CAMP students who will serve as role models and leaders. The first students are expected to enroll in one of the three different schools in the fall of 2003. Prior to that, CAMP will reach out to the migrant students already enrolled and give them the support they need.

For further information, contact Dr. Francisco H. Vazquez, Director Institute for Public Policy and Community Action, Sonoma State University, (707) 664-3185.

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