Ongoing success helps build a greater pathway for students across Colorado
By: Cathy Beuten | CU System
Celebrating its 35th anniversary, the University of Colorado Pre-Collegiate Development Program is reaching further and going farther into the rural areas of the state. The program last year expanded to Fort Morgan in northeast Colorado, and is heading to southern Colorado in the coming year to the San Luis Valley. Two other school districts – Holyoke and Garfield County – are next in line.
Chris Pacheco, executive director of the Office of Pre-College Outreach & Engagement on the Boulder campus and system liaison for the larger cross-campus program, said new funding has allowed the expansion and has also helped launch a new STEM program.
“All of those programs are being operated out of the Boulder campus,” he said. “We recently, in the last two years, got a large influx of ongoing funding from the chancellor’s office to do more outreach to rural Colorado.”
About 96 percent of program graduates go on to college – many to CU and others to state institutions such as Colorado State University and Metropolitan State University of Denver.
It was because of this success that the University of Colorado Board of Regents, led by Chair Sue Sharkey, R-Castle Rock, initiated a plan that provides an additional $510,000 a year toward reaching rural communities. Approximately $460,000 is being provided by the Boulder campus along with a $50,000 increase from the University President’s Office for existing rural partnerships.
The program is not only empowering the state’s urban and rural communities, it’s building the future of Colorado: Three pre-collegiate graduates were a part of this year’s legislative session, including Sen. Jesse Ulibarri, Reps. Joe Salazar and Dan Pabon, Pacheco said.
“I’m pleased that CU is extending our highly successful pre-collegiate program into Fort Morgan with plans for further extension in eastern Colorado,” Sharkey said. “It has helped thousands of students around the state realize the possibilities of higher education and now it will provide students in rural Colorado a path toward higher education so they can contribute to their communities and to society.”
Pacheco worked with the regents to determine where the greatest need existed for the pre-collegiate program.
“They asked me for a proposal for expanded outreach with recommendations of what areas of the state to reach out to,” Pacheco said. “We looked at the demographics of the state to see where it might be most beneficial and where there was interest, and that’s where we came up with the four rural areas we’re targeting.”
The popular pipeline program that preps middle and high schoolers for college has reached more than 45,000 students in the past three decades - more than 2,700 youths this year alone. Students are invited to the program starting in the seventh grade. And while most of the students are first-generation, some are from single-parent families or are the eldest among their siblings.
The program started at CU Boulder in 1983 and was adopted systemwide at CU Colorado Springs, CU Denver and CU Anschutz Medical Campus in 1987. Students are required to have a 2.5 GPA at CU Boulder, CU Denver and CU Colorado Springs, with CU Anschutz requiring a 3.0 GPA.
Other information on CU’s pre-collegiate programs:
- Pre-Collegiate Development Program
- CU guiding students to and through college
- CU pre-collegiate video