Skip to content

1300 Campaign Continues to Lift up Young Men of Color to Pursue Higher Education

February 14, 2024
In 2022, UC Merced announced a collaboration with Stanislaus State to expand the 1300 Campaign by sending an additional 1,300 young people of color into the UC and California State University (CSU) systems.

Editor's note: In honor of Black History Month, the UC Merced newsroom is highlighting some of the organizations, services and people who serve or represent the Black community on campus.

For many aspiring college students, it can be hard to picture themselves attending a four-year university, especially when they will be the first in their family to attend. UC Merced's partnership with The 1300 Campaign is giving local young men of color a first-hand experience of what being a student at UC Merced might feel like for themselves - from the dorm room to the research lab.

It has been more than a year since UC Merced joined The 1300 Campaign partnership, continuing its efforts to help students of color attend and succeed at four-year universities. According to the organization's website, The 1300 Campaign is a "community-led and systems change initiative that seeks to permanently transform the historical systematic barriers that have limited opportunities for young men of color." Through local, regional and statewide partners, the organization aims to develop, advance and establish the deep-rooted change to send 1,300 more young men of color to each region's University of California and California State University by 2025 and 2026, respectively.

The initiative allowed a cohort of students to spend one week last summer experiencing college life at UC Merced. San Joaquin Valley high school students traveled from as far south as Visalia and as far north as Tracy.

"It's about building the motivation for students," said Daniel Lepe, director of the Office of State College Preparation Programs within UC Merced's Center for Educational Partnerships. "We try to simulate the whole transition-to-college experience."

The week-long college experience includes living in the residence halls, having meals at The Pavilion, a trip to Yosemite National Park to conduct field research, working with faculty on campus and a tour of CSU Stanislaus.

Among the participants was Demetris Brown, a junior at Golden Valley High School. He said college has always been part of his plan, but there isn't anyone in his household who has been through the process.

"It opened a lot of eyes for people like me," said Brown. "The kids that were there the first day didn't want to pursue college, but the trip inspired more of us to do something with our lives other than falling into the stereotypes."

Brown said one of the most beneficial parts of the experience was a session focused on practical financial guidance. Participants learned about how much money a four-year university would cost out of pocket (with or without financial aid), opportunities to have the cost of their room and books covered, how to stay out of debt, and how to save and invest.

"It was eye-opening for most of them. We later heard it was one of their favorite activities because it helped them realize they could afford to go to college," said Lepe. "A lot of the time they are running on assumptions based on what others say. Hopefully, this can start changing the conversation of what they share with others about college access."

This summer, The 1300 Campaign will welcome a new cohort of young men of color to campus. Visit here for more information on how to become involved.