Heller Foundation award of $100,000 will support recruitment and retention of underrepresented agroecology students

October 06, 2023


A one year, $100,000 grant from the Clarence E. Heller Foundation will support a University of California, Santa Cruz-led project to recruit and retain underrepresented students in agroecology and sustainable food systems programming at UC Santa Cruz, UC Davis, and UC Berkeley. The project serves to complement recently awarded USDA grants working at the UC system level and regionally in the Monterey Bay.

The project, entitled “Underrepresented Student Recruitment and Retention Programming for the UC System-wide Undergraduate Agroecology Program,” aims to unify agroecology and related undergraduate programs across the University of California system and increase successful agroecology career advancement for underrepresented students and professionals across the state. 

The effort will be led by Damian Parr, research and education coordinator for the Center for Agroecology. Center for Agroecology Executive Director Darryl Wong will co-lead the project, with additional support from Stacy Philpott, faculty director of the Center for Agroecology, professor of Environmental Studies, and Ruth & Alfred Heller Endowed Chair in Agroecology, and undergraduate students.

Project goals are to increase underrepresented student enrollments and degree completion by establishing a multi-campus underrepresented student peer advising and mentoring program, increase peer-to-peer capacity for recruitment activities across UC Santa Cruz, UC Davis, and UC Berkeley, and increase expertise and capacity in educational equity and underrepresented student services for the UC Santa Cruz agroecology major and ensure greater success in recruitment and retention programming. 

The Center for Agroecology will partner with campus units under the Vice Chancellor of Student Success and Equity, including the Office of African, Black, and Caribbean Student Success and Hispanic Serving Institution Initiatives to leverage their professional expertise in student success and educational equity. These partnerships will include shared student staff positions to be jointly supervised with units within the Vice Chancellor for Student Success and Equity.