DINUBA, Calif. (KFSN) -- Leaders from The University of California, Merced, and Dinuba Unified School District (DUSD) signed a partnership Monday morning.
The Merced Automatic Admission Program, also known as MAAP, allows students at DUSD who complete specific requirements to be admitted into the university automatically.
Those requirements include getting a 3.5 GPA with no grade lower than a C.
"Kids are nominated for the program because they are exceptional students, and we would love to raise the talent and help them see those possibilities in Merced," says UC Merced Director of Admission Dustin Noji.
Noji says this is the second partnership in the Central Valley.
Their first was with Merced Union High School District.
Data of the first cohort in Merced show 202 students applied for the program; of those, 169 were eligible - 114 of them submitted their UC application, and all were admitted.
DUSD Superintendent Joe Hernandez says he hopes for similar numbers for students in Dinuba.
"We are trying to get more of our kids to go to college, and to be able to go to a UC is an achievement... Our vision is to end generational poverty, and to do that; we need to give our kids the opportunity to go to college, get a career and be successful in life."
Claudia Diaz is a 7th-grade teacher and soccer coach in Dinuba.
She was born in Mexico and moved to the area very young.
She attended UC Merced and played soccer for the university - now, she is setting an example for students with similar backgrounds back home.
"It's good for students to see themselves... I feel like I'm like them, we come from the same background, and if I can do it, they can do it," she says.
She believes the new partnership will simplify access to the university for first-generation students who have to figure everything out on their own.
"An education is something no one can ever take away from you," she says.
Noji says the university plans to expand the program to more local schools across the Central Valley.