The U.S. Department of Education has awarded California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) a five-year, $2.63 million grant to help retain and graduate low-income, first-generation and disabled students at the campus.
The grant was awarded to CSULB’s Student Support Services Program (SSSP) through the campus’ Office of Educational Equity Services (EES). Annually, SSSP provides some 450 CSULB students with academic tutoring, advising in course selection, information and assistance on a full range of federal financial aid programs, counseling services to improve financial and economic literacy, exposure to cultural events, peer mentoring and personal counseling.
“Cal State Long Beach is a model for serving the underrepresented, and the Office of Educational Equity Services is committed to serving and caring for people who might be less fortunate than others,” explained Howard Wray, executive director of EES and director of SSSP. “This grant will go a long way toward helping these students graduate and really improve their lives.”
Wray reported that CSULB’s proposal earned 299 points out of a possible 300. He also noted how competitive this year’s application process was.
“We’re really very satisfied and overwhelmed that we scored so well,” he said. “The competition in this year’s grant proposal process was very keen, and resulted in 94 previous grantees losing their SSS programs because of low proposal scores. So obviously, we’re very pleased with this outcome.”
Wray believes that when SSSP is successful, it adds to the success of Cal State Long Beach in terms of retaining and graduating students. In fact, he pointed out that the five-year graduation rate for SSSP’s 2004 cohort group is 65 percent, a full 10 percentage points higher than the office’s stated objective.
“When students come to Educational Equity Services, 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,” Wray pointed out. “We are able to provide them with much needed assistance to boost their grades or improve their writing skills so they can graduate.”
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.
There is also the Educational Opportunity Center (EOC), which serves adults who need assistance in getting their GED or applying to and enrolling in postsecondary educational programs; the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP), a federally-funded program designed for students from migrant families; and the McNair Scholars Program, which is designed to increase the number of students from underrepresented segments of society and disadvantaged backgrounds who have demonstrated strong, academic potential to enroll in and graduate from doctoral degree programs.