Texas shield logo

YEC Expands College Readiness, Recruitment Programming for Underserved Texas Students

By Jessica Sinn

Rio Grande Valley students visiting UT w Bevo mascot

The DDCE is pleased to announce the expansion of the Youth Engagement Center (YEC), a college readiness, student recruitment program that serves thousands of high school students across Texas. Funding for the new developments is provided, in large part, by the university as part of its efforts, announced by President Jay Hartzell in July 2020,  to advance diversity and inclusion measures on campus.

Among the university’s top priorities is better recruitment of outstanding high school students from underrepresented groups. Since 1987, the YEC (formerly UT Outreach) has been doing this work in traditionally underserved high schools in Austin, Dallas, Houston, Rio Grande Valley and San Antonio.

With support and funding from the university, the YEC has added six new staff positions and doubled its reach from 3,500 to 7,000 students per year. Program participants—more than half being first-generation—are provided with an array of resources (temporarily online) that guide them through the college admissions process, including one-on-one advising, SAT/ACT test prep, scholarship application assistance, weekend and evening college readiness workshops and more.

In addition to increased staffing, the YEC is also extending its offerings to middle schools, and it has bolstered programming in the Rio Grande Valley to increase the number of first-generation Latino/a college students at UT Austin or any school of their choosing.

The YEC has also partnered with the university’s Office of Admissions to connect promising high school students with the UT Honors Program. The partnership has also helped accelerate college matriculation numbers, which have grown to 524 applications, 264 admissions for targeted schools in Dallas, Houston and the Rio Grande Valley during the 2019-20 academic year.

During the pandemic, the YEC has more than doubled attendance for virtual events—engaging future college students in various workshops and sessions, including leadership and professional development seminars, STEM-field info sessions, guest speaker events and more.


More about the Youth Engagement Center

A long-standing program within the DDCE’s Longhorn Center for School Partnerships, the YEC works to enrich the educational and professional pursuits of underrepresented students through intentional programming, experiences and relationships designed to grow leaders who will change the world. Visit the YEC website for more information.