More than 300 first- through sixth-graders from Fresno Unified School District are participating in the After School University, a hands-on educational summer camp at California State University, Fresno modeled on a university system.

Running through July 17, the program is hosted by the Office of Teacher Recruitment at Fresno State in conjunction with SoluNet, an educational firm that creates, plans and administers after-school programs. The camp is supported by supplemental after-school funding through the Fresno County Office of Education’s Safe and Healthy Kids department.

The camp provides children from four local elementary schools the opportunity to grow academically while on summer vacation, and participate in activities they might not otherwise try, said Diego Moreno of SoluNet and assistant program coordinator for After School University.

“We’ve had success with after-school programs at the individual locations during the school year,” Moreno said. “We thought a great way to serve these children would be to not have camp at the individual schools but to bring all of our schools together into the large After School University.”

Camp activities include a morning session of math designed to improve the pupils’ California Standardized Testing scores by one level within one year of testing. Math is disguised with games and other fun learning activities.

Children select two of 10 enrichment courses such as photography, video production, dance, cheer, robot building, sewing and even an interactive Nintendo Wii course.

“The children are very enthusiastic because they’re seeing things they have never seen before, and in a university atmosphere,” said Robert Garcia, who teaches at Birney Elementary School and is a “board member” at the After School University. “In teaching them video production and all they can do from a simple laptop, the children start to build confidence and have fun with learning.”

Moreno said a real strength of the After School University is that “we don’t focus on just one subject, like math, science or sports. Instead, children get a little bit of everything, and they do it all on a college campus, which promotes a college-going mindset for the future.”

Building college awareness at an early age is important, said Anne Murphy, program coordinator at the Office of Teacher Recruitment in the Kremen School of Education and Human Development at Fresno State.

Other community partners for the camp include Educational Resource Consultants and the elementary schools.

The Office of Teacher Recruitment, housed within the Kremen School, provides community-based involvement for students pursuing bilingual, special education, multiple and single subject teaching credentials.

For more information, contact Moreno at 559.287.9296 or Jennifer Mastro at 559.230.2103, or