PUENTE has won accolades for its approach to helping more than 400,000 underserved students thrive academically – by holding high expectations, valuing cultural and social capital, and ensuring that students and their families have critical college-going information and guidance. PUENTE reaches high schools and community colleges as far north as Redding, California and as far south as the border with Mexico.

Puente Milestones

Mouse over and click dates to see our milestones

The PUENTE Project was created by Felix Galaviz, a Chabot college counselor, and Pat McGrath, an English instructor in 1981. The two saw the need for support services for their underserved students, among whom they saw a common lack of direction and engagement, poor academic skills — especially in writing — and an elevated dropout rate. On a paper napkin, Galaviz and McGrath drew a Venn diagram, highlighting the three components they believed were critical to motivating and supporting Latino students in achieving academic success: writing, counseling and mentoring. Bolstered by the research and preparation that followed, these three overlapping circles remain the basis for the PUENTE Project. Once the pair began implementing their model, they saw student outcomes improve dramatically.

Over three eventful decades (with Galaviz and McGrath at the helm until 2005) PUENTE has won accolades for its approach to helping underserved students thrive academically–by holding high expectations, valuing cultural and social capital, and ensuring that students and their families have critical college-going information and guidance. Puente reaches high schools and community college as far north as Redding, CA and as far south as the border with Mexico.

Pat Mcgrath and Felix Galaviz

"By the end of the second term, students had not only
doubled their grade point averages, they were eager to
continue in school."

—Pat Mcgrath, Co-Founder

"We've been fortunate to have trained teachers and
counselors who are deeply committed to PUENTE.
We couldn't have done it alone."

—Felix Galaviz, Co-Founder

Looking Ahead

The PUENTE Project continues to move forward in addressing the fundamental problem in higher education: the achievement gap.
Future plans to expand PUENTE's reach and effectiveness include:

  • Increasing the number of community college and high school programs in California.
  • Working with high school districts to institutionalize PUENTE's pedagogy and methodologies, thereby increasing the numbers
    of students who benefit from PUENTE's approach.
  • Initiating new programs in states outside of California, e.g., Texas.
  • Increasing support for degree completion for our undergraduate population; developing a program that provides coursework
    and services to students while they are attending four-year institutions.
  • Developing a pilot program to expand PUENTE to middle schools.
  • Developing institutional partnerships in order to add a STEM component to PUENTE's program services.