Outreach Programs for College-Bound Black Students in California Fall Victim to Governor Schwarzenegger’s Budget Axe

After the enactment of Proposition 209 in 1996, the University of California intensified outreach programs in an attempt to encourage black and other minority students to apply to the university’s campuses.

Among the programs is the Pre-College Academy at the University of California at Berkeley. Under this program, high school students from low-income families, or students who would be the first in their family to attend college, come to Berkeley for a six-week summer program that gives them a taste of college life. They receive instruction in mathematics and writing skills that will help them gain admission to the University of California. Due to state law, these programs are open to students of all races. But because they are more likely to come from low-income families, black and Latino students are disproportionately represented in these programs.

By 2002 the state of California was spending $127 million annually on outreach programs and $85 million of this sum was used in programs operated by the University of California. At the height of the outreach programs, 80,000 students each year were participating.

But these pre-college outreach programs have been scaled back in recent years due to the state’s financial difficulties. The University of California’s budget for these programs has dropped from $85 million to $17 million. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger sought to eliminate all funding for these programs for the coming year, but the legislature held the budget at $17 million. The number of students participating in these pre-college programs has been cut in half.

The California State University system saw its budget for similar outreach programs cut from $52 million to $7 million.