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1300 Campaign Summer Youth Academy Inspires Higher Education Dreams for Young Men of Color

Updated: Jun 25

In a collaboration aimed at increasing the number of young men of color (YMOC) in higher education, the 1300 Campaign's Summer Youth Academy (SYA) has emerged as a pioneering initiative in its second year. A brainchild of a strategic alliance involving Central Valley 1300 Campaign partners, Improve Your Tomorrow (IYT), UC Merced Chancellor, Juan Muñoz, and former President, Dr. Ellen Junn of CSU Stanislaus, the program's focal point is to provide a formative collegiate experience to YMOC in middle school and high school, demystifying college and inspiring more scholars of color to enroll in higher education.

Through a week-long Summer Youth Academy, over 50 YMOC underwent a life-changing experience. Nestled within the dormitories of UC Merced, participants embarked on a multifaceted journey. The week's agenda encompassed career assessments that unveiled individual strengths and interests. These insights provided a foundation for crafting personalized educational plans, setting the stage for academic accomplishments.

The Academy's curriculum thoughtfully integrates immersive visits to CSU Stanislaus and Yosemite National Park (no summer program is complete with a trip to National Park). At CSU Stanislaus, students gleaned insights into the teaching program and honed essential life skills such as budgeting and financial planning for college.

Integral to the program is mentorship, an element that thrives at UC Merced. Participants were able to meet with both student leaders and faculty members, who helped foster a sense of community, helping underscore to participants that their collegiate ambitions would be supported.

Over the course of the week, the group was exposed to a diverse spectrum of potential pathways after high school. Reflecting on the program's impact, a student from Tracy High School shared, "I didn't know what I wanted to be before I came here, but then when they brought out the police officers and paramedics...The EMT really inspired me." Another student, representing Thomas Downey High School, affirmed, "I didn't want to go to college at first [before this trip], but now I want to get into Technology Engineering. I really like Stan State and UC Merced." This immersive, week-long experience equips participants with crucial life skills, profound insights, and mentorship, propelling them confidently toward their higher education and career objectives.

As the program concluded, participants emerged with a well-rounded comprehension of their options and a clear roadmap to steer their aspirations toward fruition.

If you're interested in receiving information on how to sign up for next year's Summer Academy, send a message to

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