Cultivamos Excelencia Research Scholars Program is a five-year (2015-2020), $3.25 million grant collaboration between UC Santa Cruz and San Jose City College that helps Latinx students cultivate early research skills. 

Abstract  |  Summary Year 5

Cultivamos Excelencia Project's goal is to motivate and retain Latinx and other high-need students to complete a research university degree. Together, San Jose City College and the University of California at Santa Cruz offer Latinx students expanded tutoring, mentoring, research skills instruction, transfer advising, and undergraduate research experiences. Students are then empowered to complete their bachelor's degrees on-time and with a honed set of analytical and writing skills. Project funding gives students a head start by developing and delivering research methods courses for transfer credit and offering summer undergraduate research experiences for university credit at the cost of community college tuition.

Cultivamos Excelencia Project budget is $3.25 million from October 2015 - September 2020.

Grant Initiatives

The program supports students in developing research skills that will ease their transition to a research university and better position them to earn a four-year degree on time. By working together, UC Santa Cruz (UCSC) and San Jose City College (SJCC) provide students at both campuses with a wide range of opportunities that enhance their research skills, including:

1. RESEARCH OPPORTUNITIES & TRANSFER SUPPORT - The UCSC Project Director brings together faculty from both institutions to design and coordinate undergraduate research opportunities by: 

  • Developing the Cultivamos Excelencia Cohort - Each year, thirty undergraduate research scholars participate in a learning community focused on in-depth research and culturally relevant writing. Scholars receive access to research writing courses; A tour of McHenry Library to explore journals and databases, and 1:1 Research mentorship from graduate students for personalized mentorship in undergraduate research. Scholars also participate in a UCSC research institute that includes six days of living on campus, engaging in seminars, roundtables, and workshops culminating with a research presentation.
  • Earning UC Course Credit at SJCC - Students can earn UC credit and get a head start on developing analytical skills to prepare for their transition to a research university. 
  • Accessing Support Programs - Once at UCSC, students are introduced to STARS (Services for Transfer and Re-entry Students) and other campus support programs. 

2. SENSE OF BELONGING - UCSC and SJCC host welcoming events for students and their families. Events like Family Day/ Dia de la Familia bring students and their families to UCSC for a full day of activities. Cafe con Pan is a quarterly gathering for transfer students to connect over coffee while sharing successes, resources, and challenges.

3. ADVISING - Students can access transfer and retention counseling at both campuses to help map out their academic journey. Students also participate in financial literacy workshops with their families.

4. PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT - Year-round professional development training that implements student success data, adopts new learning systems, improves student outcomes, and culturally relevant pedagogical practices are available to advisors, faculty, and graduate students.

Anticipated Impact

The first five years of the initiative focus on achieving the following outcomes:

  • The percentage of two-year college Hispanic students transferring will increase from 33% to 43% 
  • 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 hold 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%
  • 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 six 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



In 2020-21, Cultivamos Excelencia transitioned from an HSI grant-funded program to an initiative sustained by the Chancellor's Office and the Division of Student Affairs and Success with a 3-year allocation to support the expansion of cross-enrollment, and continuation of Family Day/Dia de la Familia and cross-campus mentoring. Most importantly, our campus has reaffirmed our commitment to San Jose City College students and colleagues. Together we engage in brave dialogue about race in higher education, try out and adopt asset-based pedagogies in our work with historically minoritized communities, and introduce new ways of structuring campus policies and practices that are anti-racist and aim to achieve racial parity in community college transfer student outcomes.