$900K Grant to Help Middle School

A $900,000 federal grant will allow California State University, Long Beach to work with Hamilton Middle School on improving student health and academic achievement.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently awarded the grant to the National Council of La Raza-Cal State Long Beach Center for Latino Community Health, Evaluation and Leadership Training.

The project, called "Youth Empowerment for Success! (YES!) Si Se Puede," will provide academic mentoring, digital media skills, career development, college preparation and physical fitness activities to students from Hamilton.

The three-year grant was one of just 12 community projects awarded nationwide.  The project will run through August 2012.

Through a collaborative effort with the Fairfield Family YMCA, the project will promote physical fitness, mental well-being, violence prevention and academic success among sixth- through eighth-grade Latino youth.  CSULB students will provide weekly mentoring at the Fairfield YMCA and will welcome youth participants to campus for workshops designed to prepare them to be future college students.

"The YES! Project combines volunteer work with a rich array of campus and community resources to provide incredible support to at-risk Latino youth," said Britt Rios-Ellis, a CSULB professor of health science who directs the NCLR/CSULB Center.  "We focus on Latino youth, as they, more than any other Long Beach population, are at risk for obesity, diabetes and lack adequate access to health care," Rios-Ellis said.

CSULB campus partners, including the Career Development Center, Leadership Academy, Multicultural Center, and Mi Casa Mi Universidad, will provide monthly on-campus workshops to enhance students' academic and career development, and to boost leadership and violence prevention skills.

During the summer, participants will receive full scholarships to the CSULB Academic Enrichment Camp and the 49er Sports Camp to strengthen academic development and engage in recreational and sporting activities.

Project staff are recruiting a CSULB graduate and four undergraduate students to serve as interns and mentors.  The university also is recruiting Hamilton student participants.  CSULB interns will receive training in community participatory research methodology and mentoring skills.

Call the NCLR/CSULB Center at 985-5312 for more information.