New UCD-SPREE Program Brings Undergraduates from Historically Black Colleges and Universities to UC Davis
June 23, 2014

DAVIS, Calif. — The UC Davis Center for Poverty Research has launched a program to host undergraduates from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) for summer experiences with poverty research and mentorship toward academic careers.

The UC Davis Summer Poverty Research Engagement Experience (UCD-SPREE), funded by the UC Office of the President (UCOP) for three years,will host eight undergraduates from Howard University, Spelman College and Morehouse College each summer. They will work with faculty and graduate students on a defined poverty research project, and will participate in a number of professional skill-building workshops and seminars.

“A key part of the Center’s mission is to train the next generation of poverty scholars,” said director Ann Stevens. “This is a perfect opportunity to introduce talented students to the research atmosphere at UC Davis.”

The summer experience will include room and board in the UC Davis student housing program and a stipend for the summer. Each student will receive GRE test preparation and will attend workshops on applying to graduate school, on writing an academic resume and writing for policy. The program also includes funding to attend one of the Center’s conferences during the academic year.

The selection process will begin in the fall of 2014 with a visit to each of the HBCU campuses by a Center faculty affiliate and a representative from the UC Davis Office of Graduate Studies. Participating faculty at the three participating HBCUs will play a central role in the student selection process.

“The faculty connection between UC Davis faculty and HBCU faculty is critical,” said Josephine Moreno, the Graduate Diversity Officer for the Humanities, Arts, Social Sciences and Education at UC Davis.

Moreno worked closely with Stevens to make connections with individual faculty at the participating HBCUs. She will also coordinate the professional development component of the summer experience. This includes workshops about graduate school, the graduate application process, writing statements for the application and developing presentation skills.

The program is funded through the UCOP’s UC-HBCU Initiative. The goal of the initiative is to increase the number of scholars from HBCUs enrolling in and completing UC academic doctoral programs.

To help make this possible, UCOP is making available two-year fellowships for students from HBCUs who participate in this initiative and are admitted to a UC graduate program. UCOP will also ask the graduate programs to provide a minimum of two years of additional support.

“Our intention is to recruit undergraduates from HBCUs to prepare them for graduate school and to encourage them to apply to UC Davis or another UC campus,” said Moreno.

The University of California hosted a total of 86 fellows across nine campuses in 2012 and 2013. So far, 14 have applied to UC graduate programs and ten have been admitted. There are currently six Ph.D. students and one academic master’s student enrolled across three UC campuses as a direct result of this initiative. More than 80 fellows are expected to conduct research at nine campuses in 2014.

Across the University of California, the five year average (2008-2012) for African Americans enrolled in academic doctoral programs was 2.6 percent.

UCD-SPREE undergraduates will be co-located with a larger group of students participating in the UC LEADS program, which prepares promising undergraduates for advanced education in STEM fields, and two other UC-HBCU initiatives at UC Davis. Their graduate student mentors at UC Davis will coordinate several social hours for these visiting students, including a weekly social gathering.

“We anticipate that our graduate students will play an active role in making sure the visiting students are engaged both professionally and socially throughout the course of the program,” said Stevens.