The mission of the Puente Project is to increase the number of educationally underserved students who enroll in four-year colleges and universities, earn their degrees, and return to the community as leaders and mentors to future generations.
Puente’s Community College Program integrates six strategies in pursuit of student success: teaching, counseling, mentoring, leadership development, enrichment opportunities and ongoing support.
Students attend a two-semester accelerated English writing series with the same Puente-trained professor, featuring:
- A rigorous developmental writing approach that includes analytical, argumentative and research-based texts;
- Stringent performance and accountability standards;
- Culturally relevant reading and writing assignments;
- Development of a small, cooperative learning community;
- Development of critical thinking skills and university-level reading and study habits;
- Community-based writing and Hispanic/Latino literature featuring texts that grow in rhetorical and thematic complexity; and
- An independent reading program featuring a wide variety of authors and genres.
Puente-trained counselors provide intensive academic and career counseling strategies, including:
- Development of a student academic plan to ensure completion of coursework required for transfer;
- Ongoing academic and career advising throughout the student's community college career;
- A mandatory personal development course to assist the student with college success strategies, transfer options, career exploration, decision-making and study skills;
- Assistance with transfer applications, letters of recommendation and financial aid processes;
- Campus liaison services including ongoing communication with university and outreach personnel; and
- College trips and conferences on University of California campuses.
Students are matched with adult mentors who act as role models to provide students with:
- Strategies for overcoming obstacles to academic and career success;
- Motivation to establish and pursue academic and personal goals;
- A sense of the value of higher education;
- A real-world view of what it takes to succeed academically and professionally;
- Ongoing support and counseling;
- A leader with whom the student can personally identify; and
- Program continuity-many Puente alumni return to mentor subsequent generations of Puente students.
Puente helps develop leadership skills among students in the following ways:
- Exemplifying a culture of community, motivation and achievement;
- Regular career panels and workshops;
- Student participation in the Puente Club;
- Fund-raising and community service opportunities at the local level; and
- On-campus guest speakers from professional and civic communities.
Because Puente is committed to educating the whole student, its community college program offers many opportunities for students to enhance their learning with experiences outside the traditional classroom environment, including:
- Participation in art and cultural activities;
- Participation in civic and community events;
- Field trips to professionals' work sites and civic offices;
- Involvement with local community and business organizations; and
- Extra-curricular events that foster social development and personal and academic success.
Puente has been recognized nationally for its commitment to providing ongoing support services to its students, who are sometimes referred to as being part of the Puente familia. Examples include:
- As part of Puente's cross-functional program design, the professor, counselor and mentor provide a supportive network for the student by closely monitoring the student's progress throughout the course of the program and beyond, until he or she is transfer-ready.
- Community networks established by the program serve as a sustainable resource for students statewide.