September 1, 2004
CAMP stakes out another five years
highly successful program for migrant workers and their children has received
a new federal grant guaranteeing its operation for the next five years.
The good news for the College Assistance Migrant Program came this summer, even as organizers were planning for an influx of new students this fall and for a series of new initiatives. The CAMP grant is for $500,000 this year and a bit more for each of the next four years through the federal Department of Education.
CAMP is focused on helping students get into college and through their first year of studies. All students from migrant or seasonal farmworker backgrounds, or their dependents, are eligible.
Counselors from the program make presentations and recruit students at high schools throughout the state, primarily near rural areas.
Once students are admitted to Sacramento State, the emphasis is on intense and constant contact to help them make it through the first year. CAMP offers help filling out forms, applying for financial aid, finding housing, choosing classes, accessing services, adjusting to college life and more. Study skills and leadership opportunities are stressed. CAMP staffers also often have direct contact with families, either visiting them at home or bringing them to campus for a tour.
About 85 freshmen can be served each year, and there’s usually a waiting list.
“We work with them very closely, and once they are accepted into our program, they usually enroll here,” says Marcos Sanchez, CAMP’s director. “If they don’t, it’s usually some sort of family emergency or situation outside our and the student’s control.”
The program is housed in Riverfront Center, where students gather to use the computers, study and socialize. It’s their “home away from home.”
And though the program is primarily for freshmen, graduates of the program often drop in as well. In fact, these older students often serve as mentors for the new freshmen.
The program has proven successful, retaining students with an especially high-risk of dropping out at an even better rate than the general student body. Nearly all the CAMP students finish their freshmen years, and more than 70 percent earn their bachelor’s degrees.
“We’re really considered one of the most effective programs in the country as far as recruiting and then retaining students,” Sanchez says. “That’s why we received the grant to keep the program going.”
Sacramento State’s CAMP project was created in 1981 and is now one of the largest in the nation. It is also the second-longest continuously running CAMP project, behind only Saint Edward’s University in Austin, Texas, which was one of the first four CAMP grant recipients in 1972.
About 1,500 students have been served by the Sacramento State project. Alumni include Omar Gonzalez, a local attorney; Fedirico Barajs, a high-ranking official within the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation; Olga Arellano, an elementary school principal; Litica Ordaz, a reporter for KCRA Channel 3; and Jose Garcia, who owns his own mortgage company.
Now, with its basic operations funded for the next five years, the program is looking to expand beyond its ongoing mission of recruiting students and helping with the first year of school.
Sanchez says the program is seeking grants or other funding so it can provide more services to students beyond their freshmen year – with such things as tutoring and job search help. The program is also working harder to track its alumni, and to get those graduates involved with current students.
The program is also working to send more students to professional conferences. And leadership training is a growing emphasis. For instance, a program placing students in government-related internships is now entering its third year with 23 students – all of whom will receive a $2,500 stipend funded through an annual EdFund Golf Tournament and a grant from the Hispanic Scholarship Program.
More: 278-7241 or www.csus.edu/camp
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