UC Davis College Opportunity Programs now in Woodland

In an effort to prepare local students for higher education, a group of UC Davis programs focusing on college-readiness and success have moved to Woodland, although more needs to be done before an outreach center becomes a reality.


“The main goal of the center is to help low-income, first-generation college students,” said Program Director Sam Blanco III. “We looked at the community and thought we could reach out and bring a college-going culture to Woodland.”


Blanco also serves on the Woodland School Board, expanding his reach within the educational community.


“It is always all about the students,” he said. “I really love my job. I’ve always had a passion for education.”


Blanco and his staff moved to their new office, located on the corner of West Court Street and Ashley Avenue in December, but it will be a couple years before the office space becomes an outreach center.

“What we want is to be able to hire outreach staff to greet the students and their families,” Blanco said. “It will be their job to help students with the college entrance process, including financial aid, study skills and other workshops, along with tutoring for youth.”


The move stemmed in part from the success of College OPTIONS, an outreach center in Redding.

Opening its doors in 2003, College OPTIONS provides Northern California students with a range of services, aimed at helping them succeed in school and plan for their future.


Redding center staff host workshops on financial aid, scholarships, college applications, career exploration, monitoring and more. Following in their footsteps, Blanco’s team is working toward their own outreach center, which will make it easier to serve students in Woodland who qualify for these college opportunity programs.


Programs falling under the “college opportunity” umbrella have changed throughout the years and Blanco has been involved since he graduated from UCD in 1992.


Although these programs are hosted by UCD, Blanco emphasized both the Educational Talent Search and the Upward Bound programs, which are federally funded by the U.S. Department of Education.

Talent Search was first established in 1966, but did not reach UCD until 1994, shortly after Blanco was hired. In fact, Blanco helped write the original grant proposal, which is renewed every five years.


Talent Search begins provides educational outreach starting with students in middle school who are first-generation, low-income students. Blanco’s team works with these students to get them ready for high school and then college. There are more than 1,700 students involved in this program through UCD.

For Upward Bound, which started in 1968, $265 million was awarded to 814 programs across the country. It’s a more concentrated program, focusing on academics where students are able to spend three weeks living on the UCD campus, studying math and science and getting a taste of the college experience. This program has around 105 students.


During summer, Blanco teaches calculus to the Upward Bound students.


In addition, there are TRiO programs designed to serve and assist low-income individuals, first-generation college students, and individuals with disabilities to progress from middle school to college.


Although UCD is a host institution, Blanco emphasized his job is not to recruit for UCD, but getting kids excited and prepared to attend any college.


By Sarah Dowling, Published in the Woodland Daily Democrat on 2/7/15

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