Every year, the University of Chicago recognizes one of its many exemplary community-based partners through an award called the Community-Based Organization of the Year. Community-based organizations (CBOs) are absolutely vital resources and advocates for their students and invaluable partners to institutions of higher education. CBOs are organizations of their communities, for their communities, and by their communities. UChicago partners with hundreds of CBOs each year to provide students with opportunities to engage with admissions counselors and current UChicago students, connect them with information and resources about higher education and the college application process, and support them to and through college.
UChicago is excited to announce that this year’s CBO and Access Partner of the Year is Puente Project. Under the former leadership of Ade Villaseñor Melgoza and continued leadership of Josefina Canchola, the national-award-winning Puente Project has improved the college-going rate of tens of thousands of California's educationally underrepresented students since 1981. Its mission is to increase the number of educationally underrepresented students who enroll in four-year colleges and universities, earn college degrees, and return to their community as mentors and leaders for future generations. The program currently serves 7 middle schools, 36 high schools and 65 community colleges throughout the state. Puente staff train middle school, high school and community college instructors and counselors to implement a program of rigorous instruction, focused academic counseling, and mentoring by members of the community. These trainings have benefited approximately 300,000 students across the state.
Puente Project has been an active member of UChicago’s Access Partners Advisory Council and has worked with admissions officers to host events such as case studies, Spanish language information sessions, and a three-piece admissions workshop series. Puente Project students have also gone on to participate in our Neubauer Family Adelante Summer Scholars Program, and one member of the 2020 cohort will be joining the UChicago community in fall 2021. We look forward to continuing to support their work in the future.