In the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges associated with protecting public health, the Homie UP Youth Empowerment Program (YEP) hosted Mi Universidad 2020, a six-week college immersion program designed to introduce first-generation students to higher education. Our team of educators, interns, and volunteers worked around the clock to provide access for youth to experience learning through a university setting.
The summer program was implemented virtually from June 23 to July 31, 2020. Forty youth participated in the intensive and interactive series of classes and activities with CSUSM professors, college students, community educators, and peers. The classes included Chicanx Studies; Our Communities Count; Raíces de Acción; College Readiness; Media Studies; Health and Wellness; Second Step; and weekly team-building activities.
We also implemented a parallel program we called Ourstory for students grades 1-6. Ourstory was a read aloud program designed to improve reading comprehension and teach awareness of community history. Using a community cultural wealth approach, Ourstory is centered on the principles of popular education to promote and increase the knowledge of Latinx and Chicanx histories, community experiences, and storytelling.
To celebrate the completion of the program we held a socially distanced Drive-Thru Graduation!
We would like to thank our partners, Universidad Popular and North County Health Services, CSUSM Faculty Collaborators including Dr. Rafael Hernández, NLRC staff, interns and volunteers, and community members for their continued commitment to Homie UP YEP.
Finally, we express our gratitude to our youth and their families for their dedication and resilience. Though technology, internet, and this virtual format was challenging, they triumphantly completed and empowered us with their stories, voice, and knowledge.
The Homie UP YEP staff is ready to continue the work in the new academic year, 2020-21,
to overcome increasing challenges and continue to empower our youth to create a path
to higher education.