The United Community Center (UCC) is a 43-year-old nonprofit, community-based agency that provides a range of programs and services to generations of Latinos of all ages in Milwaukee’s near Southside. In 2012, UCC received funding from Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation for a College Success grant: Abriendo Puertas (Opening Doors). UCC was awarded this postsecondary persistence grant to significantly enhance and expand its Pre-College Departments efforts to support its college students. Abriendo Puertas aided 154 undergraduates to achieve success in college by helping them develop and maintain connections on/off campus to boost their odds of finishing their programs of study; over 90% were Latino. In 2013 UCC received funds to continue the success of the AP Program to serve 100 Latino undergraduates. Enhanced programming includes a more profound professional development series of workshops, intentional mentorship/networking opportunities with industry professionals from over 60 corporate partners and organizations. Students receive mentoring, counseling, career development and professional/social connections designed to provide academic, financial, career development and social resources/support that Latino students need to feel empowered to persist and achieve their higher education career goals.
The mission of the Abriendo Puertas Program is to support undergraduate students from traditionally underserved backgrounds (first generation, low income, minority status students) in maximizing academic and social integration, goal setting, and commitment to achieving goals in a culturally relevant manner in order to remain in and finish college. Program services are individualized and designed to empower Latino students to overcome obstacles, complete higher education, and commence successful careers.
· Despite serving a cohort of 154 undergraduates from disadvantaged backgrounds (100% minority, 94% Latino, 83% 1st generation, 73% low-income), the semester-to-semester (Fall 2012) retention rate was 97% and persistence rate was 96%.
· Of students with 12 or more credits, 99% had a GPA equal or greater than a 2.0.
· Participating students completed 97% of attempted credits.