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Educational Equity Services Receives $2,632,145 Grant

Published: May 16, 2011

Educational Equity Services (EES) in the Division of Student Services recently received a five-year grant totaling $2,632,145 for an annual level of support of $526,429 to retain and graduate low-income, first-generation and disabled CSULB students.

The grant from the U.S. Department of Education funds the Student Support Services Program (SSSP), which annually provides 450 CSULB students academic tutoring, advising in course selection, information on a full range of federal financial aid programs, assistance in completing financial aid applications, counseling services to improve financial and economic literacy, assistance in applying for admission to graduate and professional programs, exposure to cultural events, peer mentoring, and personal counseling. The grant officially begins on Sept. 1.

Howard Wray, EES executive director and director of the McNair Scholars and Student Support Services Program, was pleased by the proposal’s special distinction.

“Our winning proposal earned one of the highest scores – 299 points out of a possible total score of 300,” said Wray, who pointed out that the new grant represents a 3 percent funding increase over last year’s. “My sincere appreciation extends to SSSP staff who contributed their personal time towards this effort — Justine Bellock, Norman Perlas, Lily Salter, Erica Thomas-Eddens and Theresa Zoucha. Also, I thank Foundation staff members for their assistance in preparing and submitting proposal-related documents within and outside the university.

“We’re really very satisfied and overwhelmed that we scored so well,” added Wray, who joined the university in 1988. “The 2010 SSS competition was very keen and resulted in 94 previous grantees losing their SSS programs because of low proposal readers’ scores. Overall 1,475 eligible applications were reviewed and 1,034 were actually funded,” he continued. “The key to our achievement is teamwork. We divide the proposal’s sections based on staff competencies before I assemble the final document.”

Student feedback regarding SSSP staff and services has been very positive. “They feel very excited and thankful because without Educational Equity Services, they struggle,” Wray noted. “When students come to us, they are often on the verge of not doing well in a particular subject or they may have difficulty passing the university’s writing proficiency exam. They might even be at the point of dropping out. We are able to provide them with much-needed assistance to boost their grades or improve their writing skills so they can graduate.”

During this spring break, EES students visited graduate schools at USC, UCLA, UC Irvine and UC San Diego, where they had the chance to discuss entrance requirements and financial aid packages with graduate admissions officers. “This is an opportunity for our students to discover if a particular campus culture is one where they could be successful,” said Wray.

Wray believes that when SSSP is successful, that adds to the success of CSULB in terms of retaining and graduating students.

“The five-year SSSP graduation rate for the 2004 cohort group is 65 percent, compared to 55 percent as stated in our objective,” he said.

Wray thanked the administration for its support. “They’ve been really wonderful,” he said. “They provide us with space, central administration personnel and indirect costs.”

EES programs offer many resources to the campus and community. Educational Talent Search has been helping low-income and potential first-generation students successfully graduate from secondary school and enroll in post-secondary education since 1977. Upward Bound serves high school students from low-income families, and from families in which neither parent holds a bachelors degree. A new program, Upward Bound Math and Science, was created in 1990 to address the need for specific instruction in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. The Educational Opportunity Center serves adults who need assistance in getting their GED or enrolling in postsecondary educational programs. The College Assistance Migrant Program is a federally-funded program designed for students from agricultural migrant worker families. The McNair Scholars Program is designed to increase the number of students from underrepresented or disadvantaged segments of society and disadvantaged backgrounds who have demonstrated strong, academic potential to enroll in and graduate from doctoral degree programs.

“Here at EES and Cal State Long Beach, we are committed to serving and caring for people who might be less fortunate than others,” said Wray. “CSULB is a model for serving the underrepresented.”

Wray anticipates continued success for EES when it comes to grant applications – five are due by the end of this year. “For years we have worked hard to lay the groundwork properly, and I expect that EES will keep building on it,” he said, meaning the $3.2 million enterprise EES annually brings to the university in support of low-income, underrepresented, disabled or first-generation college students. “Our practices are always evolving. If anything doesn’t work, we fix it or get rid of it. Then we do something better. My first priority is to keep the grants EES has. My second priority is getting more.”

–Richard Manly