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The Puente Project: A National Model for Student Success

Puente Project was introduced by Felix Galaviz and Patricia McGrath in 1981 when they found that there were a lot of disadvantaged students in America who did not even attend academic counseling. It was started in Chabot College where Galawiz and McGrath worked as Counselors and English professors. “In an effort to understand the possible causes of this high dropout rate, Galaviz and McGrath reviewed over 2,000 student transcripts.” (Program history, n.d.).

They found that the Mexican American/Latin students did not perform well in academics and that college-level writing courses had very less student enrolment. The families of many of these students were ignorant because they had not received proper education. They believed that the best hope of reversing this trend was to develop a system that would serve the needs of the whole students in a carefully monitored, highly accountable and culturally integrated way.” (About the Puente project, n.d., para. 1).

The program assumes that every student will perform better if proper environment and support are given to them. The program is more than 25 years old and has ever since been producing excellent results which encouraged them to continue with it. “University of California and the California Community Colleges,” (About the Puente project, n.d., para. 2) play the role of a co-sponsor for the program. The success of the project is evident from its introduction in more than 36 high-schools and over 56 community colleges. (Puente project-California community colleges, 2009).

There are a lot of specially trained teachers and instructors, along with counselors who act as mentors to the students. The parents are also included in the program. (About the Puente project, n.d.). What the program does basically includes writing, counseling and mentoring. The mentors work rigorously to help disadvantaged students in these areas. One of them says, “I don’t want these young people to struggle like I did when they can have the benefit of our experience.” (P V (Puente mentor), n.d.).

The guidance is given to both high-school and college students. At the high-school level, the ninth and tenth-grade students are given English writing practice by the same instructor within two years. This is aimed at incorporating the interests of Latino students and other culturally different students through textbooks and lessons. “These classes provide a supportive and stimulating environment for students through the curriculum which integrates Mexican American/Latino and other multicultural literature and themes within the framework of college preparatory English classes.” (Program components, n.d., para.1).

The same kind of practice is given at the college level too, but within one year, which means two semesters. The counseling is done at the high-school level and college level by specially trained counselors so that any kind of ignorance about higher studies can be avoided. The students are guided to decide the right career and subject for higher studies. This part is crucial to the students as it is at this point that they decide what their field of study or work must be. “Puente counselors who work closely with Puente students to help them identify career goals, develop short- and long-term education plans, and navigate their preparation for and application to four-year colleges and universities.” (Program components, n.d., para. 2).

The third component, which is mentoring helps the students to involve in mentoring activities, understand its importance for their communities, and act as successful mentors for future generations. This component is very important as parents of many such disadvantaged students might not have had a formal college education. “The mentoring component is a vital link between the local community and the school program. Through this component, students are exposed to diverse professional and cultural community environments.” (Program components, n.d., para. 3). There are certain criteria for participating in the program so that students who have no real interest do not join it.

The interested students are required to enroll in counseling courses after each semester and meet the counselor for this purpose. They must agree to not leave the program before the end of a year. It is also essential to have a proper commitment to their work and the mentors. They must be eligible for the English writing courses, without which it is impossible to move forward with the program. “Students who do not meet the participation criteria are informed that they are not eligible for the program.” (Puente, 2009, Criteria for participation, para. 9).

The students’ families too play a major role in the programs. They are included so that the students’ identities can be better developed and the family members are given opportunities to lead and guide the students the right way. “Counselors are encouraged to involve family members or guardians as active participants in the high school program and to provide them with opportunities for leadership by involving them in the planning and execution of Puente activities.” (Role of parents & family, n.d.).

The very fact that the project has been introduced in more than a hundred educational institutions shows how effective it has been in helping out the disadvantaged students with their problems. It has been found that the programs have benefited more than 40,000 students and even more students indirectly. (The Puente project, 2006). The result produced by the Puente project in high schools is amazing. The University of California admits three times more students who have participated in the Puente project in high school.

Even the number of Puente students joining college is as high as 83%. (The Puente project, 2006). The project has also won various awards and recognitions from the American government ever since its introduction. It has won the “prestigious Innovations in American Government Award”, and was chosen to “guide policy makers to improve college access and success by the Pathways to College Network,” (The Puente project, 2006, National recognition, para. 2).

All the awards and recognition earned by the project are due to the high quality its programs maintain and the care in choosing the mentors and counselors. “Chosen for its successful track record in “embracing the social, cultural and learning-style differences in developing learning environments and activities for underserved students,” (The Puente project, 2006, National recognition, para. 2).

The Puente Project received many awards like the Hispanic Image Award in the year 2008. (Puente program news, n.d.). The project has been included in various conferences and selected for talks by celebrities. The continuing success of the project and increasing popularity give the project a very bright future. The Project plans many new events, which will soon be introduced.


About the Puente project: Statewide Puente project history. (n.d.). Mt. San Jacinto College. Web.

Puente project-California community colleges. (2009). CA. Web.

P V (Puente mentor). (n.d.). About Puente. Puente: Bridging Classrooms and Communities Since 1981. Web.

Program components. (n.d.). Puente: Bridging Classrooms and Communities Since 1981. Webю

Puente: Process for participation: Criteria for participation. (2009). Chabot College. Web.

Puente program news: Puente wins Hispanic image award. (n.d.). Puente: Bridging Classrooms and Communities Since 1981. Web.

Program history. (n.d.). Puente: Bridging Classrooms and Communities Since 1981. Web.

Role of parents & family. (n.d.). Puente: Bridging Classrooms and Communities Since 1981. Web.

The Puente project: A proven track record of academic success. (2006). Web.

The Puente project: A proven track record of academic success: National recognition. (2006). Web.


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