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Our History


MAIA was founded in 1979 by the late William MacKenzie, a California Central Coast rancher. During his years working in agriculture, he was impressed with the talents and motivation of the farmworkers he came to know. In an effort to assure that their sons and daughters could attend college, he became an active recruiter for Princeton and other private institutions of higher learning.

MacKenzie shared his ideas with others, including late Watsonville High School counselor Michael Sullivan. Together they identified and mentored hundreds of college bound students from poor and farmworking families.


These students, who went on to the country's most prestigious colleges and universities, are now pursuing successful professional careers in law, medicine, business and academics as well as being active community leaders. Today, continuing the work of MAIA 's most dedicated mentor, the Michael Sullivan Memorial Scholarship Fund makes awards to promising first generation college students.

Following in the footsteps of their mentors as conscientious volunteers, former MAIA students are sharing their talents and skills with their communities, the nation and the world.

“MAIA works with the process of migration and adaptation through small contributions of seed money. It also strives to assure that a small but steady flow of former migrant children who have graduated from Watsonville High School and gone onto a university, come back to us as highly competent professionals. The network formed by their parents is the critical mass needed to encourage other parents to let their young ones go on.”

Florence Wyckoff – testimony at hearing before National Commission on Migrant Education, July 16, 1991

Fifty Years of Grassroots Social Activism:


Florence Wyckoff's life history includes her remarkable, lifelong work as a social activist, during which she became nationally recognized as an advocate of migrant families and children.


From the depression years through the 1970s, she pursued grassroots, democratic, community-building efforts in the service of improving public health standards and providing health care, education, and housing for migrant families.


Major legislative milestones in her career of advocacy were the passage of the California Migrant Health Act and, in 1962, the Federal Migrant Health Act, which established family health clinics for the families who follow the crops along both the eastern and western migrant agricultural streams.

Florence Wyckoff moved to Watsonville, CA in 1947 and lived there until her demise on Sept. 20, 2000.

Florence Richardson Wyckoff


  • Bill Mackenzie and Michael Sullivan's College Preparation work began in 1969 at Watsonville High School and ended in 2000 with Michael's passing. MAIA continued their work with the Pajaro Valley Unified School District counseling department and in 2005, MAIA Board Member, Lorraine Sandoval Vigil started the Ivy League Tours. Since 2007, students with a 3.75 GPA from WHS and Pajaro Valley High School apply and each year ten to twelve students are selected. They commit to attend a training course during the summer and fundraise for their portion of the tour expenses. Parents are also involved. MAIA provides initial funding and has continued to provide a small grant annually.

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