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UC Berkeley Press Release

New grant funds UC Berkeley "early college academy"

– The University of California, Berkeley, is launching a California Early College Academy to better prepare educationally disadvantaged students for higher education, thanks to a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.

The academy is expected to open in fall 2005. The new school, its location yet to be determined, will serve about 420 students in grades 6-12. The youngsters, about 60 in each grade, primarily will come from neighboring communities throughout Alameda County, where UC Berkeley is located.

Funding of $400,000 over three years comes from the Gates Foundation through the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation and covers the costs of planning, curriculum development and related programming.

The Gates Foundation is the overall funder for several early college initiatives across the country such as this one. The Woodrow Wilson foundation focuses on college-level arts and sciences preparation.

Through similar partnerships, the Woodrow Wilson foundation has produced four other academies since 2003. Two are in New York City, one in Los Angeles, and another in New Orleans.

"The new initiative represents a real opportunity for the faculty in the Graduate School of Education and the entire UC Berkeley campus to take a leadership role in K-12 education," said P. David Pearson, professor and dean of the education school and co-principal investigator for the partnership.

"We want the academy to provide a learning environment that enhances opportunity and achievement for students from all income levels, racial groups and language backgrounds in the East Bay," said Pearson. "We also want it to be a resource for teacher education and leadership training on our campus and for professional development for East Bay school districts."

The Graduate School of Education, its division of student affairs and a campus faculty committee appointed by Chancellor Robert M. Berdahl will guide the development of the academy. Co-chairs of the committee are Mark Wilson, a professor of policy, organization, measurement, and evaluation at the education school, and Angelica Stacy, a UC Berkeley professor of chemistry.

The idea is to design a new school - largely based on research conducted by the Graduate School of Education - which will improve young students' skills and abilities. Another goal is to design a less abrupt and more seamless transition for students moving from middle school to high school, and from high school to college, and to encourage collaboration between high school and university faculty.

Genaro M. Padilla, UC Berkeley's Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, said the academy will offer an opportunity for faculty from numerous disciplines "to create curriculum, pedagogy and assessment tools that integrate disciplinary content with the habits of mind necessary for success at a research university."

The benefits will extend even further, he said.

"UC Berkeley takes seriously its responsibility to assure that the innovations and practices emerging from the California Early College Academy are disseminated locally to our present K-12 partners as well as nationally to schools seeking to improve education for our youth," Padilla said.

Many Woodrow Wilson schools feature a low staff-to-student ratio, after-school tutorials, integrated college coursework, the use of portfolios and exhibitions for students to demonstrate their readiness for graduation, and service learning programs.

They emphasize liberal arts coursework, and graduates receive college credits, sometimes enough to enter college as sophomores or juniors.

The Woodrow Wilson foundation Web site is at http://www.woodrow.org/.