California State University, Long Beach
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CSULB Receives $2.25M for College Assistance Program

Published: October 15, 2010

The U.S. Department of Education recently awarded CSULB’s Offices of Educational Equity Services (EES), Division of Student Services, a five-year grant totaling $2,257,296 to administer a College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) for students attending campus from migrant and seasonal farm worker backgrounds. According to the U.S. Office of Migrant Education, the university’s proposal was among the top-ranked applications.

CAMP is a federally funded plan to assist institutions of higher education to recruit, enroll and retain migrant college students. California is home to more than 200,000 migrant students who account for approximately one-quarter of the total U.S. migrant student population. Migrant farm workers reach the average of the seventh grade in their education. Twenty percent complete less than three years of schooling while just 15 percent complete 12 years or more.

This is the third consecutive award to CSULB of a five-year CAMP grant, said Howard Wray, executive director of Educational Equity Services and principal investigator and project administrator of CAMP. “The purpose of the grant is to annually recruit and enroll 40 migrant students at CSULB and to retain at least 86 percent of them into their second year,” he said. “The award period is from July 2010 through June 2015.”

The funding will support the central operating staff of the program including a full-time director, a counselor, a recruiter, an administrative assistant and a part-time clerical and tutorial staff. In addition, funds will be used to recruit and retain migrant students as well as sponsor orientation seminars for parents and incoming students.

Forty students will be enrolled and served per year for a total of 200 over the five-year period. “Each student served will be able to help younger students and their families understand the significance of having a college degree and how to achieve it,” said Wray, who joined the university in 1988.

Wray expressed pride in EES’ success. “I feel extremely gratified that the U.S. Department of Education acknowledged the high quality CAMP proposal EES submitted and the exceptional performance the program has achieved over the past five years,” he said.

Wray believes one reason the Department of Education granted CSULB the grant was migrant students’ serious need for services and the ambitious objectives the program has set for itself including a high-quality plan of operation.

Wray explained that only 33 percent of California migrant students enroll in college preparatory courses. Further, only 12 percent of migrant students meet state standards in English performance and only 18 percent meet state standards in mathematics. “California migrant students lag an average of three years behind non-migrant students at all academic levels,” he said. “And only one percent of California migrant students enroll in any postsecondary program.”

CSULB has established three ambitious objectives to help the federal government meet the Government Performance Results Act, Wray said. First, 40 migrant students must enroll at CSULB. Second, it must be ensured that at least 86 percent of CAMP freshmen complete the first year of college. And third, it must be ensured that at least 86 percent of CAMP students who complete their first academic year of college will continue their postsecondary education.

EES’ third consecutive receipt of a grant reveals several strengths in the program.

“One, in addition to the EES staff being highly skilled in researching and writing winning proposals, it carefully plans effective methods of operation and uses its resources wisely in administering the program to achieve its objectives over five years,” he said. “And performance reaffirms its trust in CSULB in enrolling, retaining and graduating migrant students. Thus, in 10 years, it invested over $4 million in CSULB and another $2.2 million to serve migrant students for this grant cycle.”

Student feedback has been positive. “CAMP students consistently state that the program’s services made it possible for them to be successful during their first year of college and to continue their postsecondary education,” said Vivian Barrera, director of CAMP. “They believe that CAMP outreach services made it possible for them to enroll in CSULB and the counseling, academic advising and tutoring services assisted them in adjusting to college life and succeeding in their courses. Overall, the vast majority of the students appreciate the welcoming and caring environment the program staff offers them.”

Wray believes that CAMP’s purpose and EES’s mission are congruent with each other. “Both programs exist to enroll, retain and graduate low-income, first-generation college students and students from groups underrepresented in higher education,” he explained.

Wray encourages other CSULB programs to apply for grants.

“I believe as educators it is our social and moral obligation to seek additional outside funding sources to help a growing population of people who are less fortunate than us go to college,” he said. “Grant writing is a skill; many of us can and do successfully write and obtain grants, but it takes a considerable amount of time and effort, usually after working hours and on weekends. It is a very difficult and time-consuming process, but in the end, you are greatly fulfilled professionally and personally knowing that you helped someone obtain a college education and changed the lives of generations to come.”