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MESA College Prep program supported by Genentech’s 2020 Diverse Future of STEM fund

MESA was awarded a $25,000 grant from the Genentech Foundation to engage underrepresented, low income and first -generation college-bound high school students with hands-on STEM education, STEM career exploration, and college preparation.  Genentech’s Diverse Future of STEM fund aims to break down barriers for underrepresented students pursuing careers in science and medicine.

MESA will use the funds to strengthen existing programs at three partner high schools, and will develop new partnerships within UCSC to create more access to campus resources for MESA students and families.  MESA is partnering with the UCSC Genomics Institute to update their outreach events to become more accessible and welcoming to our local community of Latinx students and parents.  MESA students and parents will attend the revamped “DNA Day” at the Genomics institute in April 2022, and will provide feedback on their experiences.  In addition, MESA will engage a focus group of Latinx parents to review UCSC admissions’ information and outreach strategies for the Latinx community, and provide focused feedback on how to better welcome Latinx parents to UCSC.   

The funding provided to the three partner schools will deepen the services and expand the program at those sites.  MESA provides hands-on, inquiry based STEM activities in a class or club setting at partner school sites, and is a proven way to make STEM learning fun, meaningful, and accessible.  The program also provides essential college preparation during the six years that students can participate (6th-12th grade).  In a recent year, 81% of our local MESA students enrolled in college directly after high school, compared to 57% of California students at large, and 31% enrolled in a UC compared to just 5% of California students at large.  Moreover, MESA reinforces students’ resolve to stay in STEM: 73% of local MESA seniors declared a STEM major as college freshmen.  MESA’s success is celebrated at our local schools.  With increased funding and new partnerships the impact of MESA will continue to grow.

“We are very excited about the new partnership with Genentech,” says Alexandria Leckliter, K-12 STEM Outreach Director. “This funding will allow MESA to establish new cross-divisional partnerships at UCSC, and create new avenues of access for local Latinx students interested in STEM. We applaud Genentech’s commitment to building a more diverse and inclusive tech community, and look forward to this opportunity to involve our parents in the program design process.  This will be especially important in 2022 as we address the pandemic learning losses and re-launch in-person field trips and experiential STEM learning”  

In addition to MESA College Prep, two other UCSC programs received funding from the Genentech Foundation’s Diverse Future of STEM Fund.  The programs are the Academic Excellence (ACE) Program and the Institute for the Biology of Stem Cells (IBSC)

“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to exacerbate existing equity gaps, worsening the systemic barriers that students of color face, particularly in the fields of science and medicine,” said Kristin Campbell Reed, executive director of Genentech corporate and employee giving and the Genentech Foundation. “Through our support for innovative programming at local and national postsecondary institutions, we hope to help build a more inclusive and diverse scientific and medical community.”

Learn more about Genentech’s Giving for a More Just Healthcare System.

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