Western Washington University’s Woodring College of Education has been awarded a grant from the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) to bring 100 high school students from migrant farmworking backgrounds to a “Dare 2 Dream” Summer Academy on Western’s campus.
The purpose of the academy is to support students to see the connections between education and potential careers as well as exposing them to the resources available to them to make higher education possible. The academy curriculum helps students to see how their language, culture and life experiences are assets in pursuing their future goals. The high school students at the academy will experience firsthand what university life is like and begin to feel this is a place where they belong. They will be mentored by 14 Western students, many of whom come from backgrounds similar to the younger students and who have traveled the path to higher education as first generation college students.
“Many of our students do not have a single family member who has attended college. They do not see the connections between education and a career, and often they do not see the strengths and resiliency they bring in pursuing education. Our goal is to introduce them to the resources and people they need to chart a path to higher education. To open their eyes to possibilities and help them move from dreaming to the realities of pursuing their future goals,” said Maria Timmons-Flores, WWU professor and principal investigator for the OSPI grant.
OSPI has awarded the university a grant of $174,375 to create a seven-day, six-night residential summer academy for students in grades 9 to 12. The academy, scheduled for June 23 to 29, will involve the students staying in dorms on Western’s main campus in Bellingham, eating in a campus dining hall and attending classes on campus. WWU admissions and financial aid professionals will hold workshops and students will interact with faculty who can introduce them to future careers.
The 9th and 10th graders will experience a curriculum focused on culture, identity and future plans and dreams. The 11th and 12th graders will be earning credit in Algebra. The program curriculum is overseen and accredited through the Washington Association of School Principals (AWSP). As part of the grant, the university will hire and train a staff of 14 WWU student mentors for the program.
The grant also funded a one-day Migrant Youth “Shadow” (a College Student) Day on May 16 for students from migrant backgrounds to demonstrate options for high school and beyond. Over 40 WWU student mentors supported the migrant students on a day on campus complete with classroom visits, a campus tour and lunch in a dining hall. The day also prepared Dare 2 Dream mentors to better understand the strengths and needs of the students with whom they will work in June.
The OSPI Office of Migrant Bilingual Education requested that Western offer the Dare 2 Dream Academy as the majority of migrant farmworking families in western Washington live within 30 miles of Western’s campus. This builds on Woodring College’s Bridges Program, which connects educators, students and community advocates to support students from migrant backgrounds to graduate from high school and build pathways to higher education.