In Fall 2013, Dr. Enrique Alemán, Jr., and Dr. Dolores Delgado Bernal with the support of a $50,000 Utah System of Higher Education Expansion Grant merged and expanded two college-access partnerships, Adelante: A College Awareness and Preparatory Partnership (Adelante) and Mestizo Arts & Activism (MAA), to form the Westside Pathways Project. The successful merging of both partnerships involves parents, teachers, educational leaders, community members, university partners, undergraduate student mentors, and nearly 50 graduate students, mostly students of color from the College of Education, who have served as graduate research assistants or volunteers with Adelante or MAA. Most recently President Pershing committed $50,000 a year for the next three years to ensure the long-term success of the Westside Pathways Project.
Adelante, founded in 2005, is a K-8 model premised on the belief that all young people, including students of color and students from lower-socioeconomic families should be expected and prepared to enroll and succeed in college, and that college preparation must emphasize students’ intellectual development in relation to community and culture. Adelante provides higher educational experiences to elementary and middle school students and fosters a college going culture in the schools. Delgado Bernal and Alemán’s research finds that after nine years of partnership work, the culture of Jackson is one that now talks about college regularly and creates awareness via college student mentors and university field trips. Their research also points to how the original cohort of kindergarteners, who are now eighth graders at Bryant Middle School, articulate their desire to go to college, what they need to do to get there, and their concerns about how to pay for college.
MAA, founded in 2007, is a youth of color collective that exposes high school students to participatory action research, civic engagement, and college readiness. It provides a community space for youth to engage in asset-based community building activities and critical dialogues on social, political, and educational issues pertinent to youth of color in the Salt Lake Valley. MAA youth have distributed their community-based research via blogs, websites, videos, digital stories, community talks, and about a dozen national and local conferences. Most importantly, in terms of the educational pipeline, in the last four years approximately 90% of the seniors have applied to and attended college after graduating from high school—most of these students have chosen the U. The majority of these students are first-generation college students, demonstrating that MAA is contributing to a strong foundation for creating college access for underrepresented students.
In 2014-15, the first cohort of Adelante alum will transition to high school. MAA will implement new strategies for outreaching and recruiting these students into the MAA space and continue to develop college access programming for these students.