University of California at Berkeley

25 Schools Join the Berkeley Pledge

Goal Is to Assure Future Student Diversity

 byline Gretchen Kell

Richmond -- One year after launching an ambitious outreach effort called the Berkeley Pledge, Chancellor Tien on Sept. 30 unveiled a list of K-12 schools that the campus will work with in a pilot project to help a greater number of disadvantaged youngsters become eligible for a UC education.

At a press conference at Washington Elementary School in Point Richmond, Tien announced that 25 schools in four Bay Area unified school districts -- Berkeley, Oakland, San Francisco and West Contra Costa -- have been chosen for the project.

He was joined by the superintendents of those districts.

The Berkeley Pledge outreach model will match campus outreach services with each school's needs.

Elementary, middle and high schools all are part of the program, thus creating in each district an academically enriched "pipeline" for students to travel through as they prepare for college.

The pilot project already has begun this fall in several schools, including Washington.

At the Point Richmond school, 45 Berkeley undergraduates will begin helping 90 fourth, fifth and sixth graders improve their math skills in an after-school program called Break the Cycle.

"What I like most about the Berkeley Pledge program is that it's not just centered around secondary education," said Kaye Burnside, Washington's principal.

"It reaches out to mold children at the primary levels so that by the time they get to secondary school, they can take advantage of what the campus has to offer.

"Often, universities wait until it's too late to help."

Tien echoed these sentiments, saying he hopes the Berkeley Pledge will become a national model for forging unique partnerships with K-12.

The Berkeley Pledge is a promise that Tien made in September 1995 that Berkeley would strive to assure the future diversity of its student body.

"The work we are doing here is important not only for the public schools, it is critical to the future of higher education," said Tien. "Through these partnerships, Cal can play an essential role in addressing the disparities that exist for some of the children in our state.

"Only then can we assure that all California youngsters have a fighting chance of realizing their dreams of success."

In a one-year update on the pledge, the chancellor said highlights included successful fund-raising efforts, increased recruitment of Southern California high school students and the inauguration of the Berkeley Academy, an outreach effort this past summer that drew 2,000 K-12 students to a dozen campus programs.

In its first year of operation, the pilot project will include only a portion of the 25 schools and expand to the rest as funding allows.

In Berkeley in 1996-97, the pipeline schools will be Franklin and Malcolm X elementary schools; Longfellow, Martin Luther King and Willard middle schools; and Berkeley High School. Oakland will begin with Hoover, Prescott, Lafayette and Martin Luther King elementary schools; Foster and Lowell middle schools; and Castlemont and McClymonds high schools.

This year, San Francisco's pipeline will involve an elementary school yet to be announced; Gloria Davis Middle School; and Phillip and Sala Burton and Thurgood Marshall high schools. In the West Contra Costa district, the pipeline will begin with Harding and Washington elementary schools; Adams, Fairmont and Portola middle schools; and El Cerrito and Kennedy high schools.

The 25 schools were chosen by Berkeley based upon recommendations from the four districts' administrators. The officials were asked to select schools not only with large numbers of disadvantaged and historically underrepresented youngsters, but schools with the willingness and ability to strive for excellence as project participants.

Most schools or districts chosen for the project are contributing funds to help bear the cost. At Washington school, for example, Burnside committed $34,000 to the Break the Cycle program, which will cost $90,000 to implement.

Anita Madrid, coordinator of the Berkeley Pledge, said that the four districts are contributing substantially to the cost of running the pilot project.

Berkeley will assist pipeline schools with motivating and advancing student learning and with strengthening college preparatory curriculum. In addition, the campus will provide professional development training to teachers and college information to students and parents.

Nearly two dozen campus outreach groups will offer help in academic subjects including reading, writing, math, science, computer skills, biology and chemistry. In addition, two districts will benefit from the Role Model Program, which pairs a K-12 student with a Berkeley undergraduate -- a "buddy" who will be a mentor and friend outside of class.

In the West Contra Costa Unified School District, Burnside said she is thrilled that her students at Washington Elementary, a math and science magnet school, will receive -- at no cost to their parents -- two hours of instruction three afternoons a week from Berkeley undergraduates.

"The Berkeley students will plan an individualized program based on the areas where each child needs to improve," she said. "When I investigated Break the Cycle, I saw significant gains in one year as a result of their program."

The majority of children tutored through Break the Cycle, a program developed at Berkeley, experience big jumps in their math scores on the California Test of Basic Skills. During the school year, in addition to a year's growth, they typically make dramatic increases on their standardized tests.

Washington, a success story, was at a low point when Burnside became principal three years ago. Enrollment -- now at 313 students -- had dropped to 180 children, there was a half-time principal, and the school was in danger of being closed. Since Burnside was hired, parent involvement has increased, 62 small businesses are contributing financially to the school and community members are volunteering to help with a variety of tasks.

The Berkeley Pledge has provided another critical ingredient -- the Break the Cycle program -- for Washington's turnaround, she said.

In his update on the Berkeley Pledge, Tien said the program is expanding efforts to attract to Berkeley underrepresented and disadvantaged high school students in Southern California. By hiring up to two more recruiters, he said, better recruitment can be done in the high schools of San Diego and Los Angeles counties.

Those counties already provide the campus with more than 30 percent of its freshman class, but with only one recruiter in Southern California, many of the schools in those counties are not visited by Berkeley at all.

A Berkeley Pledge committee that made personal phone calls to students accepted by Berkeley met with success, Tien said. This fall, more admitted students decided to enroll.

Efforts to raise money for the Berkeley Pledge, which Tien considers a long-term commitment, continue to succeed.

Tien kicked off the Berkeley Pledge last year with $1 million in seed money from his discretionary fund and said he will commit another $1 million this year. As part of a major contribution to the campus, Chevron recently donated $200,000 to the Berkeley Pledge. About $90,000 was raised through donations from campus employees and the United Way.


Copyright 1996, The Regents of the University of California.
Produced and maintained by the Office of Public Affairs at UC Berkeley.
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