The Science Education & Mentorship In Latino Lives in Academia (SEMILLA) Project is a $5.7 million grant focused on keeping Latinx and low-income students on the path toward graduating with science and engineering degrees.


During the five year project, UC Santa Cruz will apply a comprehensive set of strategies to support Latinx students in clearing the barriers to success they face inside and outside the classroom in pursuit of STEM degrees.


UC Santa Cruz will implement a series of programs and activities aimed at increasing support for high potential LatinX students pursuing STEM degrees including:


  • College Math Academy - The academy will offer two Math 3 seminars providing an intimate high support college-based learning community with undergraduate co-leaders in sections and small group tutoring. This 5-unit course, with a 2-unit lab  factors in language and equity strategies. The fall the academy will be held at Merrill & Crown Colleges with 40 students; in the winter the academy will take place at Oakes & Rachel Carson Colleges with an additional 40 students.


  • Expand and supplement STEM Diversity Programs to engage first year, second year and transfer students in STEM workshop series and assistance with scientific writing and literature. Writing support may include assistance with internship applications, graduate school applications and student lead workshops


  • Increase support, exposure of and collaboration with current STEM programs - Grant funds will expand support and integrations with the Science and Math Academy, Engineering Summer Bridge Academy, Academic Excellence Program (ACE), Multicultural Engineering Program (MEP) and Modified Supplemental Instruction (MSI). SEMILLA activities will also promote and integrate student engagement in the scientific journal club and undergraduate research opportunities.

  • STEM Learning Center -  The center will  provide academic support, small group instruction, collaborative study teams, holistic advising and more as a supplement to STEM foundation courses in mathematics, chemistry, biology and engineering.


  • Holistic STEM Counselors/Early Alert - STEM counselors will partner with faculty in STEM foundation courses to provide personal support and develop relationships with students. Counselors and faculty will proactively seek out potential student barriers and connect students with resources to overcome challenges.

  • Career Development - STEM career development seminars and STEM alumni mentoring. The SEMILLA director will also teach a 1- unit STEM Career Development Course.  This is a project-based class where students are exposed and explore multiple career and research pathways aligned to their interests and goals. Students will also learn resume writing and interviewing techniques.


  • Transfer STEM Academy - This five-day on-campus summer academy will offer students an opportunity to learn about STEM pathways, majors and resources to prepare students for their transfer to UCSC.  Students will build community, affirm their STEM identity, engage in STEM related activities, as well as take part in special lectures and graduate student research projects.

  • Academies & Articulation Review -  Develop STEM major transfer course maps to assist students in their transfer journeys with local partner community colleges including : Cabrillo College, Monterey Peninsula College, Hartnell College and San Jose City College.


  • STEM Equity Analysis, Reporting and Engagement -  Analysis and engagement with faculty and departments on achievement gaps in light of race/ethnicity, gender, and income across the academic pipeline. These activities will raise awareness among faculty and support policy development aimed at closing achievement gaps.

  • STEM Faculty PD - Collaboration with faculty on classroom equity challenges, including instructional support and development; examining pedagogy and achievement disparities; and creating strategies for unified supplemental instruction. Support for faculty participation and course modification will be offered with a goal of shaping course design for two courses per year.

  • TA Training Certificate - A two-day intensive workshop style training. This Certificate Program will include topics such as collaborative and active learning, cultural competency, teaching for equity, and mentoring STEM students.

Anticipated Impact

Specific grant outcomes for student advancement as part of the SEMILLA project include:

  • Reduce attrition of STEM-intended Latinx and low-income students at the major declaration milestone by 20% over baseline

  • Increase the number of Latinx and low-income STEM students who graduate in 6-years to 587 students (a 10% increase from current rates)

  • Increase the number of Latinx and low-income STEM transfer students from partner community colleges by 20%

  • Increase the 3-year graduation rate for Latinx and low-income students from community college partners in STEM majors by 20%



Have questions about the SEMILLA initiative? Contact, Rene Moreno (831.502.7033 |