Campus: CSU Fullerton -- October 29, 2004

Department of Education Grant Awarded to Enhance Programs for Hispanics at Cal State Fullerton

Cal State Fullerton has been awarded $433,910 in first-year funding from the U.S. Department of Education as part of a five-year $2.3 million grant to enhance programs for Hispanic students, particularly in math-based programs.

"Of course, when we're looking at program development or enhancing teaching methods for Latinos, all students benefit," said Donald S. Castro, special assistant to Cal State Fullerton President Milton A. Gordon. Castro is overseeing the grant project.

"We have always prided ourselves on the programs we have at Cal State Fullerton to help not only our Hispanic students but younger Hispanic students, as well. By working with high schools and the community, we are able to extend our reach. This grant will enable us to do even more."

The grant effort has four components: conducting a needs assessment of local Latino communities, improving math instruction for Hispanic students, tracking Latino freshmen who enter math-based campus programs in 2004 and subsequent years for the life of the grant, and providing Hispanic students with programs and services to enhance success and the development of leadership skills.

"We want to look at Hispanic populations in Orange County and see what they think of the university," Castro explained. "We want to raise awareness of Cal State Fullerton and promote a more positive image. Right now, Latinos are aware of us in a general sense, but we want to focus on intentionally reaching out to them.

"Our second component centers on math education. We already have some wonderful programs in the Math Department, such as the Project MISS program that provides summer programs in algebra and precalculus for 10th- and 11th-grade girls," Castro noted. "Funding from this Department of Education grant will enable the university to keep the momentum going and expand on it. We're hoping to identify techniques and methods to enhance the learning experience for Hispanics, particularly Hispanic women, and encourage them to consider math or math-based programs, such as engineering or some of the sciences."

As part of the math education component, university professors will mentor other faculty members.

"Some of our faculty members are already experts in reaching their Latino students," said Castro. "We'd like to showcase their expertise so others can adapt some of their teaching methods. Our goal, of course, is to show Hispanic students that math is not simply a 'hurdle to be overcome' but can be a discipline that can enhance their lives."

The third component of student tracking and mentoring looks at Latino freshmen entering math-based campus programs. These students will be tracked and given special mentoring and tutoring. The goal is to cut by 30 percent the attrition rate of Hispanic students over the long term.

The fourth component is providing programs to develop student success and leadership. Grant funds will be used to develop and offer special workshops to improve leadership and coping skills and to encourage Hispanic students to pursue graduate studies, careers in math-based fields and assume leadership positions within their communities.

"Frankly, we already provide some of the services and programs. In fact, I'm sure that was part of the reason that we were reviewed so favorably," said Castro. "We have a track record of reaching out to Latino students, so this funding will allow us to extend our reach."

The U.S. Department of Education Title V grant was awarded from a pool of federal funds available to universities and colleges identified as Hispanic-serving institutions.

One-fourth of the 32,744 students enrolled at Cal State Fullerton are Hispanic, and the university is ranked sixth in the nation by Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education for the number of bachelor's degrees awarded each year to Hispanics.

Media Contacts: Donald S. Castro at (714) 278-3231 or dcastro@fullerton.edu,
Valerie Orleans, Public Affairs, (714) 278-4540 or vorleans@fullerton.edu


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