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The PUENTE Project

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Its mission is to increase the number of educationally disadvantaged students who enroll in four-year colleges and universities, earn college degrees and return to the community as mentors and leaders to future generations. The program is interdisciplinary in approach, with writing, counseling and mentoring components.

Founded in 1981 at Chabot Community College in Hayward, California, the program has since expanded to 6 middle schools, 38 high schools and 65 community colleges throughout the state of California and chapters in Washington and Texas. 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. Puente's staff training programs have benefited approximately 300,000 students across the state. Puente is open to all students.

  • In 2009–10, the transfer rate of PUENTE participants was 56%, compared to 44% for all CCC students and 34% of educationally disadvantaged students.

  • The number of transfers to four-year college or university continues to increase: 573 PUENTE Community College participants transferred in 2009 compared to 397 in 2001, approximately a 44% increase

  • PUENTE students passed the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) at a significantly higher rate than all students statewide — 97% of PUENTE students passed the English exam compared to 81% in the state, and 96% passed the Math exam compared to 81% in the state.

"As an ESL student, PUENTE held my hand and walked me through the bridge of the English barrier to cross on the other side of a four year Institution called CSUSB. My expected graduation is in June 2013. Once a Puentista, always a Puentista!"

—Claudia Martinez,
Riverside City College

"PUENTE has shown me the value of '¡Sí Se Puede!', a phrase that echoes daily in my mind. PUENTE has taught me that anything can be accomplished with hard work and dedication, and has given me the power to transfer this fall to UC, with the hope of going to law school in the future… PUENTE has indeed changed my life."

—Jaime Ruiz-Rubio,
Chicano Studies/History Major,
UC Riverside

PUENTE is funded via three revenue streams, two of which are via California State legislature’s SAPEP program and The University of California. The third is via private grants.

Over three eventful decades PUENTE has won accolades for its approach to helping underserved students thrive academically–by holding high expectations, valuing cultural and social capital, and ensuring that students and their families have critical college-going information and guidance. Puente reaches high schools and community college as far north as Redding, CA and as far south as the border with Mexico.

Learn more about The PUENTE Project.