Cultivamos Excelencia

In 2015, UC Santa Cruz and San Jose City College collaborated to recieve a $3.2 million grant for Cultivamos Excelencia Research Scholars Program. This five year undertaking focuses on developing early research skills as the foundation to motivate and retain Latinx and other historically underrepresented students toward finishing their degree at research institutions like UC Santa Cruz.


UC Santa Cruz and San Jose City College are working together to strengthen the transfer receptive culture through Cultivamos Excelencia Research Scholars Program. The partnership provides transfer advising, research experiences, tutoring, and mentoring to support students as they transfer and earn a bachelor degrees on-time with a strong set of analytical and writing skills.


Successful research is a key component of the University of California experience. The Cultivamos Excelencia Research Scholars Program gives SJCC students a chance to earn UC credit for an intersegmental courses taken at SJCC, while receiving a head start on developing analytical skills to prepare for their upcoming transition to a research university. Once at UCSC, students are welcome into STARS (Services for Transfer and Re-entry Students) and other support program on campus. The partnership between institutions is designed to support academic confidence, research skills and motivation.

Programs planned as part of the Cultivamos Excelencia Research Scholars Program include:  


Cultivamos Excelencia Cohort- The grant supports thirty undergraduate research scholars through a learning community that introduces students to research writing in deeper and culturally relevant ways. Over the course of one academic year, Cultivamos Scholars participate in experiences that build their writing and research skills through coursework and one-on-one mentorship by a UCSC graduate student and faculty. Scholars are welcomed to the UC Santa Cruz campus community and more. The cohort experience includes:


  • Research Writing Courses @ SJCC - SJCC and the Latin American and Latino Studies Department at UCSC have partnered to offer Cultivamos Scholars one SJCC course and a UCSC intersegmental cross enrollment course. These two courses, offered in the fall, center on the topics of research development, literature analysis, methods training, communicating research results through writing and research development. During fall, Cultivamos Scholars will enroll in SJCC’s English 1B course and UCSC’s LALS80F: Latinos in the U.S.: A Comparative Perspective course. Culturally responsive mentorship, growth mindset and confidence-building will also be emphasized.

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  • Research Access to UCSC Library -  Welcome & Library Exploration - A select group of San Jose City College students visit UC Santa Cruz for a tour of McHenry Library. On the visit SJCC students receive a library card, explore the library’s journals and databases essential to research as an undergraduate at UCSC.


  • Research Institute at UCSC - This is a 6-day, full-time residential experience created to prepare Cultivamos Scholars for research engagement. Through seminars, roundtables, and workshops, scholars develop skills and knowledge to present their research at the Cultivamos Excelencia Research Symposium on the final day of the institute. All sessions are facilitated by experienced staff, researchers and graduate students. 


  • Research Mentorship by Graduate Students- Each Cultivamos Scholar is paired with one UCSC Ph.D. or Master's graduate student for personalized mentorship in undergraduate research. All graduate student mentors receive 16 hours of culturally responsive pedagogy training. The training helps graduate mentors develop skill that will be central to their development as future faculty and leaders.



  • Family Day/ Dia de la Familia - The annual Family Day/Dia de la Familia brings SJCC students and their families to UCSC for a day long of activities where they are made to feel that they belong and are welcomed. They also attend workshops regarding the transfer process and financial aid. 


  • Cafe con Pan - SJCC students who transferred to UCSC meet quarterly to have coffee and bread. Student socialize, share resources, share accomplishments, and seek advice on challenges they are facing as transfers.



  • Transfer/Retention Counseling - A full-time Academic Counselor at SJCC and one full-time Academic Advisor at UCSC will provide advising services include meeting individually with students, determining how their courses will transfer to the University, exploring and helping students understand academic majors, and estimating time to successful completion of the bachelor’s degree.

  • Financial Literacy - Advisors will conduct or facilitate financial literacy workshops offered both during the day and evenings, and available to families as well.



  • Research Opportunities - The Project Director at UCSC is responsible for bringing faculty from both institutions together to design and coordinate undergraduate research opportunities for potential-transfer and transfer students.


  • Professional development for advisors, faculty & graduate students at both campuses -  The grant will provide a year round calendar of training activities, including using student success data and the adoption of new learning systems and methods to improve student – learning and student services outcomes. The grant also provides culturally relevant pedagogical training for graduate students.

Anticipated Impact

By developing and delivering this set of early research experiences we expect the following outcomes for our students:


  • The percentage of two-year college Hispanic students transferring will increase from 33% to 43% by the end of the five year grant period

  • 90% of community college students in the program will maintain a 3.2 or higher GPA

  • 90% of program students who transfer to the university will maintain a 2.8 or higher GPA

  • The percentage of program students who transfer and are retained from Fall semester to Fall semester will increase from 91% to 95%. (Starting year 3 through year 5)

  • The time-to-graduation for students in the project from their first enrollment at SJCC to graduation at UCSC will decrease by one year

  • The number of Hispanic transfer students graduating within 6 years of their initial enrollment will increase from 77% to 80%

  • 18 programs, or 75% of Cultivamos Excelencia Project programs, will continue working relationships in some form at the end of the grant period among faculty at the two institutions

  • Within five years, there will be a workable commitment by both institutions to continue the program

Updates & Accomplishments

We’re excited to share the latest updates on our Cultivamos Excelencia Project since it’s launch in 2015.


  • 10 UCSC graduate students served as research mentors for the 2016-17 cohort.

  • 9 UCSC graduate students completed a 16-hour Culturally Responsive Pedagogical Training.

  • 23 SJCC undergraduates were selected as program scholars for the 2016-17 cohort

  • 9 Cultivamos Excelencia Scholars completed the Research Institute at UCSC between May 27- June 3, 2017

  • 143 students and family members attended Family Day/Dia de la Familia!

  • The Latin and American and Latino Studies department at UCSC will partner with the Cultivamo Excelencia program to offer the first intersegmental cross enrollment course taught at SJCC. 


  • 3 UCSC graduate students served as research mentors for the 2016-17 cohort.

  • 8 UCSC graduate students completed a 16-hour Culturally Responsive Pedagogical Training.

Next Steps

15 Graduate student mentors for the 2017-18 cohort

35 Scholars for the 2017-18 cohort

Pilot the Intersegmental cross enrollment and evaluate its effectiveness


Have questions about the initiative? Feel free to contact

Dr. Elizabeth Gonzalez at, Rene Monero at or Charis Herzon at