The University/Eastside Community Collaborative
The University/Eastside Community Collaborative (UECC) was established to provide enrichment, tutorial and employment opportunities for the young people who live in the Eastside area of the city. The area, adjacent to the University of California, Riverside (UCR), has a large minority, low socio-economic population with a history of neighborhood unrest. In the summer of 1994, officials from the City of Riverside, Riverside Unified School District (RUSD), UCR, and community based organizations began discussions regarding a partnership to benefit Eastside youth. That fall, a board of directors was formed from the contributing agencies and a viable program was designed, with funding from the City of Riverside, RUSD, UCR, and a one-time grant from Kaiser Permanente Hospital. The UECC began in January 1995 as a pilot program; after one year of implementation it has served 729 elementary students, 78 adolescents and has logged over 5,000 tutorial hours through the work of 149 UCR students. The UECC mission is to identify at-risk students with high potential to augment their educational experience and introduce new opportunities.
In order to reinforce, strengthen and supplement the efforts of public education, tutorial/enrichment programs began in early 1995 at two of the Eastside elementary schools. Staffed by UCR students, the program focuses on improving math and reading skills and offers enrichment activities such as art, dance, music and sports. An additional site at the Cesar Chavez Community Center was added for the 1995/96 school year. Other expansions include independent, one-on-one tutoring at the middle and high school levels, tap dance lessons which were funded by donations from a local bank and a community organization, and a 1995 summer academy serving 120 children. These after-school programs have been successful in providing alternative activities and valuable educational support.
In order to familiarize Eastside youth with the workplace, the Youth Employment component of the UECC was designed. This program gives at-risk students employment opportunities in a professional setting and provides mentoring. UCR and Riverside Community College (RCC) offices employ students four hours a week during the school year and up to 20 hours per week in the summer. The students earn $5.25 per hour working in a variety of positions including lab assistant, clerical assistant and computer aide. Each student who takes part in the Youth Employment program is required to keep a journal of their activities and to attend the Youth Leadership Academy facilitated by UCR faculty and staff. The Academy focuses on motivation, goal setting and peer pressure and includes classes on topics such as values orientation and conflict resolution. In addition to the worthwhile job experience and exposure to professional situations that the students gain, they are also assigned an individual mentor. These mentors, trained UCR graduate students, are required to meet with the students two times a week in person and once by telephone. The Riverside Department of Mental Health has provided a counselor to assist the program and offer individual counseling to the students who participate.
While the two components discussed above are the primary focus of the UECC, other efforts have been made to accomplish the UECC goals. A motivational video, featuring the real success stories of current UCR and RCC students, has been made in a format similar to the board game "Life." This video will be presented to students in order to encourage participation in the UECC programs. Eastside parents have been encouraged to enroll their children in the UECC activities and have also been offered informational booklets about the road to a college education. Further parental involvement and services is a goal of the UECC.
The key to the success of the University/Eastside Collaborative is the system of productive and equal partnerships. Many agencies and organizations have combined their efforts to provide educational, cultural, recreational and social outreach programs to underprivileged and under-served youth. Riverside looks to the UECC as a shining example of what can be accomplished through teamwork.
Contact: Office of the Mayor, (909) 782-5551
The United States Conference of Mayors
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
Copyright ©1996, U.S. Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.