November 19, 2009
Scores of campus organizations that deliver UCLA services to children and youth in Los Angeles-area schools came together recently to connect and collaborate.
Bruin Corps, the UCLA Volunteer Center, the Latin American Institute and Mattel Children’s Hospital were just a few of the numerous groups represented at UCLA’s Civic Engagement for Children and Youth in Los Angeles, a campus forum held on Nov. 16 at the Faculty Center. Representatives of outside community groups also attended.
The annual forum is sponsored by UCLA’s Academic Preparation & Educational Partnership (APEP) Programs, which is co-chaired by Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Janina Montero and Aimée Dorr, dean of the Graduate School of Education & Information Studies (GSE&IS).
“There are hundreds of locations, initiatives and partnerships providing student support in the community,” said Montero. “What we try to do with this forum is to bring together as many of our UCLA partners as we can, as well as our community partners, to renew friendships, expand knowledge about each other and find out how we can provide assistance to each other.”
Dorr said the forum ultimately aims to “improve the health, welfare and performance of children and young people … without necessarily costing anything.” At a time when financial support for academic preparation of younger students for college is at an all-time low, Montero added, “collaboration and using resources as wisely as we can is that much more urgent.”
Participants in the morning-long event spent some time in a freewheeling meet-and-greet, then broke for roundtable discussions in small groups based on shared geography, spanning ten regions stretching from the San Fernando Valley to the South Bay.
For some, the forum was an opportunity to meet some of their counterparts for the first time. Among them, Hugo Cristales, senior site coordinator for the Early Academic Outreach Program of UCLA Student Affairs, noted that his program works with teachers and counselors in 100 high schools and middle schools — but his staff doesn’t always know what other UCLA programs are operating in the same schools. The forum enabled him to discover that Center X of GSE&IS also trains teachers at some of the schools his group works in, and UCLA Extension makes scholarships available to high school students for Extension classes.
The morning’s activities concluded with presentations by the small groups about their roundtable discussions.
“I’m pleased to say that our group got all sorts of new knowledge that we wouldn’t have gotten any other way,” reported Jane Hancock, co-director of Center X, reported. “We came up with many possible collaborations, none of which cost money.”
One group, led by student affairs officer Annie Huerta, representing the Student Affairs Office’s Alumni Volunteer Program, even came away with a full-fledged action plan: the creation of a UCLA Bruin mentor program for students at Gompers Middle School, the South Los Angeles school that Chancellor Gene Block and UCLA students served on UCLA Volunteer Day.