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November 5, 2010

History of U Connects/Kids on Campus - 2007 - Present

U Connects/Kids on Campus is a product of the Presidents Initiative on Children Youth and Families.

The University of Minnesota President's Initiative on Children, Youth and Families (PICYF) was established when Dr. Robert Bruininks was appointed interim president of the University of Minnesota in the fall, 2002. His desire was for the University of Minnesota to use its significant resources to play a major role in increasing public awareness and discussion of issues facing children, youth and their families, and to address these issues and challenges through interdisciplinary partnerships with the full force of University commitment behind them.

Tex Ostvig was appointed to the steering committee of PICYF by President Bruininks and Vice President Dr. Sallye McKee and was then later given charge to create a PK-8 outreach program that would focus on "College Access" as well as aspects of Pre-Collegiate Preparation. His background as a graduate from the University of Minnesota College of Liberal Arts and at the time his six years at the university as a staff member with Orientaiton and New Student Programs and the Office for Equity and Diversity provided him with the tools needed to create and implement such a program.

U Connects
Begun in Fall of 2002 with an invitation to 50 youth from Urban Ventures to attend a football game, U Connects served mentoring organizations for three years providing free tickets to University of Minnesota sporting events and theater events as well as tickets for the Minnesota Twins and the Minnesota Vikings.
Tickets would be distrubuted to mentors and mentees on a monthy basis and on specific occasions groups would meet before the event and have a short presentation on the University of Minnesota, proceeded by a question and answer session about college. On average appoximately 1000-3000 ticket we distriubted on an annual basis.

Then in the fall of 2006 discussions began to expand the program to include schools with a pre-collegiate preparation agenda. These efforts evolved into the "Kids on Campus" program in January of 2007 that was given charge by the PICYF committee and President Bruininks to hosts schools, after school programs, youth groups and mentoring organizations with the goal of "sparking the curious minds of our youth towards the value of college and higher education" by enabling youth from Pre-Kindergarten through eighth grade to experience campus life in a new and creative way.

Office for Equity and Diversity and the Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence and the sponsors and works with Kids on Campus in the hope that each youth that attends a Kids on Campus experience will leave with an expanded sense of why collge is valuable, how a college education can improve our communities and society and that they youth will see how higher educaiton can can allow youth to create goals and dreams and develop their valuable talents and abilities.

The first pilot campus experience was held on Febuary 9, 2007. This event was organized to host 82 youth from the MCL Program in partnership with the Konopka Institute at the Univeristy of Minnesota. These youth represented communities from Cass Lake, Fergus Falls, Faribault, Worthington, Maple River, North Minneapolils, and McGregor. The planned campus experinece invited youth and adult leaders to visit and explore the Univeristy of Minnesota. The day also included a student panel that was selected with a focus on first generation college students, college students of color and college students that came from economically challenged homes. The intent of this was to put college students in front of grade school and high school students that could connect with each other by life experiences, emapthy as well as similarities in ethnicity and cultural.
This visit was planned, organized and faciliated by Tex Ostvig the Coordinator for Pre-Collegiate Outreach as well as staff from the Konopka Institute.

Since then the Kids on Campus has served over 80 Schools, youth groups and youth serving organizations, with over 150 visits which has resulted in served an estimated 10,207 youth as of November 2010.