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Underground Scholars Build

Underground Scholars Program

In Fall 2021, Underground Scholars Initiative was developed to support the academic and personal experiences of formerly incarcerated and/or system impacted scholars and their families at UC Merced


About Us


The mission of UC Merced’s Underground Scholars Initiative (USI) is to provide support, services and leadership for formerly incarcerated and/or system impacted scholars and their families. We strive to foster and nurture skills and dispositions that contribute to academic and personal success in order to empower scholars to make self-sustaining progress towards degree attainment and ensure professional success after graduation.

Through intentional collaborations and partnerships, USI will facilitate coordinated support services that empower scholars to transition into the culture of higher education by providing community, peer counseling, scholarship information, financial aid advising, career planning and other academic resources.


USI will provide advocacy in the UC Merced campus community on behalf of previously or currently incarcerated scholars and families impacted by incarceration. We will advocate to establish a consortium of campus partners to acknowledge and address theeffects of incarceration, especially those effects that create social, emotional, and logistical obstacles that can interfere with a scholar’s pursuit of higher education

USI will also work in collaboration with community-based and/or political entities to advocate for local, state, and national policies that benefit currently and formerly incarcerated scholars to become intentionally intrusive and shift away from the school-to-prison pipeline through recruitment, retention, and advocacy


Underground Scholars History

Underground Scholars Initiative (USI) was first established as a student-led organization at UC Berkely in Spring 2013. The Underground Scholars Initiative soon expanded to other UC campuses.

UC Berkely Underground Scholars organized a UC wide meeting in September 2019 with formerly incarcerated and system impacted scholars. The goal of this meeting was to expand USI across the UC system. As of Fall 2021, all nine UC’s will have established an Underground Scholars Initiative ontheir campus

If you would like to learn more about the Underground Scholars Initiative please visit the following site:



For student staff click here

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Edith Ramirez

Professional Title: Program Coordinator


Schedule Appointment:here

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Alejandro Delgadillo

Professional Title:Associate Director for Educational Equity and Access


Schedule Appointment:here