PAL Center Offers Local Upward Bound
By Dianne Anderson
Local teens mixed and mingled over the weekend with potential collegians at UCLA, where they rubbed elbows with staff, took in the sites and sounds of campus life, and then off to the roar of a winning football game.
It’s all in a typical lineup of learning by example offered at the San Bernardino PAL Learning Center.
Dwaine Radden, CEO of the PAL Center Academy, said the experience is huge for the kids every time they tour local and faraway campuses.
“It keeps them out there,” he said. “They get to see what that looks like, we take them on trips. Once they see, [that] he looks like me, she looks like me, that’s huge.”
Recently, the PAL Center won a grant to implement a TRIO Upward Bound program at the grassroots level.
One program is offered at Cal State University, San Bernardino, but he said many students in the under-served community are not accessing it on the campus.
Several years ago, PAL Center administered the program, but this time they expect to reach more students at their two locations. The program will serve San Bernardino High School students, and they are also implementing a career and college readiness grant to help students with college pathways, with their SAT’s, tutoring and academic support.
But, he also knows that not every student will go on to a four-year college. Many are interested in technical or industrial fields, which offer good alternatives. He said the PAL Center program also works closely with San Bernardino Valley College.
Other lucrative options in manufacturing are also in demand, provided that students are properly trained in technical fields.
The PAL Center reaches kids as early as sixth grade to help them prepare in STEaM [Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math] programs, and introductions to career technical education, like robotics.
“If we can get young minds going at an early age, they may secure some of those jobs. That’s our goal, to build our school around electronics and STEM,” he said.
Currently, the PAL Center works with a middle school, and two high school programs. They also tutor with Children and Family Services, as well as provide WIOA programs for the City of San Bernardino. He said they are also implementing a new high school diploma program for adult learners.
Altogether, they serve about 300 students and adults in their three locations, including Muscoy, one center at 1686 19th street and another on 1671 Sierra Way.
Keeping kids and teens academically curious is a little harder with the under-served population, but he said all the kids need is a little push.
“At home, they’re not really getting that push,” he said. “When they come on our campus we remind them about the importance of school.”
Seeing careers in action helps. He said they have the chance to figure out what they want to do in life. They learn that they have a choice.
“We are not going to force you, but whatever you choose we’ll provide staff and support. We have to make sure that these kids are ready to pick a path,” he said.
For more information on programs or online classes, contact the PAL Center at 909.887.7002, or see https://www.palcenter.org