Academic Retention Initiatives

ARI Unity in Diversity event

Who We Are

The Academic Retention Initiatives at UC Davis comprise four multifaceted programs whose purpose is to:

  • promote academic success among marginalized student populations.
  • empower these students to engage the full measure of opportunity available at the university.
  • grow as individuals and to find a sense of belonging and the support they need to realize their aspirations.

Creating a diverse and inclusive community that reflects California and the world helps students with marginalized identities achieve, build resilience and feel the sense of belonging that is essential to their success both at UC Davis and in their post-graduation lives and careers.


To align with the greater mission of the university and the Division of Student Affairs, the Academic Retention Initiatives promotes and fosters academic success, student development, and campus community. We promote a sense of belonging and partnership among our students as they explore their academic goals. 


The Academic Retention Initiatives (ARI) at UC Davis aims to improve academic outcomes by amplifying and encouraging historically marginalized student populations through culturally relevant programs and resources. Our retention initiatives advocate across campus and regularly collaborate with many departments, colleges, and organizations to bridge activities that facilitate student-centered academic success. In the service of our students, the Academic Retention Initiatives and affiliated centers provide data and research informed services, spaces, and resources. 


  • Academic Seminars
  • Culturally relevant classroom experiences that address the intersection of academic success, identity development, and the campus community as a place where they can thrive.
  • Holistic Academic Advising
  • Culturally informed asset based advising focusing on challenges or barriers and successes or opportunities, to provide individualized interventions and coaching. 
  • Initiative Operations
  • To help initiative-associated staff and aspiring student leaders develop problem-solving, planning, and decision-making skills in support of their development
  • Institutional Engagement 
  • Activities that are inclusive of partnerships and coalition building with both institutional (on-campus) and Community (external) entities to engage students for success. 
  • Student Success
  • Provide students with the necessary tools to: encourage self-efficacy design, (re)define student success, navigate institutional systems, and build social capital. 
  • Wellness 
  • Care as a tool for capacity building and community engagement. 

The Four Academic Retention Initiatives 

The Strategic African American Retention Initiative strives to promote academic success and increase retention and graduation rates of African Diaspora student success emphasizing community engagement and self-exploration.

The Strategic Asian and Pacific Islander Retention Initiative is a conduit of support for Asian and Pasifika scholars as they navigate the university. Diverse programs and services provide culturally-specific support in order to empower and promote the successful degree completion of scholars who identify within these diasporas.

The Strategic Chicanx/Latinx Retention Initiative is focused on the academic, personal, and professional success of Latinx students as well as dedicated to dismantling systemic barriers that negatively impact the campus climate for Latinx students.

The Strategic Native American Retention Initiative is a multifaceted academic success program at UC Davis focused on increasing the retention, persistence and graduation rates of Native American students, in a culturally appropriate way.

Academic Retention Initiatives FAQ

  • Where are the Academic Retention Initiatives located?
  • Strategic Asian and Pacific Islander Retention Initiative (SAandPIRI)
    University House Annex
    Contact SAandPIRI

    Center for African Diaspora Student Success (CADSS)
    South Silo (Room 270)
    Contact CADSS

    Center for Chicanx and Latinx Academic Student Success (CCLASS)
    Memorial Union - 2nd floor
    Contact CCLASS

    Native American Academic Student Success Center (NAASSC)
    University House - The Native Nest
    Contact NAASSC

  • Why were the Academic Retention Initiatives created?
  • The Academic Retention Initiatives were created to serve and are committed to increasing the retention and graduation rates of underrepresented minority students. Specifically, they provide academic support and services to our student communities. They are designed to amplify and encourage hxstorically underrepresented and underserved student populations while also helping them to navigate and dismantle systemic barriers that negatively impact campus climate. These initiatives actively work to facilitate connections for students across the campus community, while also informing campus leadership of the needs of these communities.
  • What is the difference between the Academic Retention Initiatives and the Community Resource and Retention Centers?
  • Each Academic Retention Initiative (ARI) at UC Davis provides academic advising and support services for student success. The Retention Initiatives strive to promote academic success, increase retention rates and support time to graduation. This is done through a culturally relevant and multifaceted framework which emphasizes community engagement and self-exploration. Our goal is to build connection and strengthen community; our programming is focused on the following:

    —Academic, personal and professional advising
    —Sense of belonging
    —Support network
    —Student empowerment
    —Student development

    The Academic Retention Initiatives collaborate with many departments on campus, including the Community Resource and Retention Centers. The Community Resource and Retention Centers (CRRC) promote student-centered work that encourages and supports programs and services initiated by and for students. The CRRC’s priorities include implementing broad-based campus climate interventions to create a more inclusive campus environment and a sense of belonging for students to meet academic goals:

    AB540 and Undocumented Student Center
    Center for Student Involvement
    Cross Cultural Center (CCC)
    Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual Resource Center (LGBTQIA RC)
    Middle Eastern, North African and South Asian Student Resources (MENASA)
    Student Recruitment and Retention Center (SRRC)
    Women's Resources and Research Center (WRRC)
  • What services do the Academic Retention Initiatives provide?
  • The services provided by our four Academic Retention Initiatives include, but are not limited to: academic advising, academic tutoring, academic and cultural programming, First-Year Aggie Connection seminars, basic needs support, professional development, Community Advising Network (CAN) counseling, study spaces and snacks.

    Some of our Academic Retention Initiatives offer additional services. Please refer to their individual websites and follow them on social media for a detailed list.
  • How can I schedule an academic advising appointment?
  • Schedule an advising appointment with Katherine Parpana, Director, or Chris Pangelina, Associate Director, via the Advising Appointment System.

    Center for African Diaspora Student Success (CADSS)
    Schedule an advising appointment with Dionica Bell, Director or Maya Bell, Associate Director.
    Schedule an advising appointment with Rodrigo Bonilla, Director or Daisy Martinez, Associate Director, via the Advising Appointment System.
    Native American Academic Student Success Center (NAASSC)
    Schedule an advising appointment with Michelle Villegas-Frazier, Director of ARI and Director of NAASSC (or schedule a meeting via Calendly).
    Schedule an advising appointment with Will Sampson, Associate Director (or schedule a meeting via Calendly).
  • Do the Academic Retention Initiatives host events together?
  • The four Academic Retention Initiatives (ARI) at UC Davis aim to improve academic outcomes by amplifying and encouraging historically marginalized student populations through culturally relevant programs and resources. We focus on community building and deepening a supportive network for our students. Our mission, vision, and anchors are interwoven into our collaborative efforts and as you’ll see from our events, we work hard together!

    The Academic Retention Initiatives meet bi-weekly to collaborate on our students’ academic success. We discuss strategic academic and culturally relevant programming and support.

    -We host quarterly training sessions for all our Scholar Staff to discuss optimal ways we can support the multi-dimensions of our students.
    -The Academic Retention Initiatives collaborate and team build together to keep a pulse on how to best support our students.
  • What is our Culturally Informed Asset-Based Advising/Approach?
  • Info coming soon.

Spaces for Student Community — Academic Success Centers and Resources