Puente, Spanish for “bridge,” is a program that focuses on bridging the gap between first-generation minority students and higher education.
Puente was founded in 1981 by Felix Galaviz and Patricia McGrath at Chabot College in Hayward when they noticed that first-generation, college-bound students were not receiving the preparation required to be successful in higher-level studies. The program strives to increase the amount of minority students in four-year colleges and universities. Puente has expanded to high schools over the years, preparing students to transition from high school to college.
“Truly, many students can benefit from Puente,” said Cheri Garcia, the Puente counselor at CVHS. Puente strictly believes in the students’ dedication to their own education as a large component to their success. After completing an application and interview process, the students who are accepted are placed into english classes that according to the program webpage, “provide a stimulating environment for Puente students.” Thus the program builds their confidence in reading, writing, and comprehension. Puente students are also assigned a counselor who will help them broaden their educational options, explore potential careers, and create an effective educational plan.
“I firmly believe in the program, and I know the potential,” said Garcia. Puente’s results speak for themselves. The program has over 5,000 students enrolled at the community college level. Additionally, community colleges with an active Puente program transfer 44 percent more students of color to UCs than colleges without Puente. It has been obvious that Puente truly motivates students, at both the high-school and community college level, to have a prestigious education plan.
Although Puente is thought to be only for hispanic students, it’s not. The program is open to anyone submitting applications. The goal of Puente is to help first generation college students learn the skills they need. The program encourags diversity and accepts students of all cultures.
Puente hopes to become a largely known organization in years to come, ensuring that students of color know that there is help and that college is an option.