SAIL is UO’s largest and most successful diversity initiative. The goal is to get more HS students that “should go to college, but are not now on the college track” into college. SAIL focuses on recruiting local students from low-SES families with parents who are not college graduates. As a result our students are considerably more diverse than the typical UO student on just about every metric.
SAIL gives students week-long summer day camps focused on an academic subject, interlaced with talks about how to get into college and get financial aid. Each camp is led by one or two UO faculty, with help from others in their department and from UO’s OA’s and staff. The camps are free to the students. Donors pay the staff and the undergraduate helpers (they are fabulous), and all the faculty volunteer their time.
SAIL started in 2005 with one camp (Economics) and 13 HS freshman students. The next summer those students went on to a camp organized by Psychology, then to Physics and Human Physiology, then Journalism. Meanwhile the Economics department started a new cohort each year. When they start, most of our students have never been on the UO campus, have no parent or grandparent who has graduated from college, and have never met a professor. The idea behind SAIL is that after 4 years of summers on the UO campus, enrolling in college would seem like the natural next step rather than something scary and unfamiliar. The data bears this out: the students who go through SAIL are representative of their HS peers on most measures, but after SAIL they are twice as likely to go to college.
This year SAIL had 340 students and 15 camps. For the full list of academic subjects, along with info on how to help out next year, see the SAIL website here.
And while SAIL does a lot to help students, most volunteers report that they have also learned a few things from the SAIL students. Don’t worry, UOM is not going to go all maudlin on you, but I will say that damn did I have it easy growing up, and if you want to learn something about why the arts matter, as I have, come to the Performing Arts Camp performance this Friday at 2PM, in the amphitheater on the north side of SOMD.