Campus: California State University, Fullerton -- December 14, 2005
Cal State Fullerton Receives HUD Grant to Help Improve Quality of Life
for Local Residents in Poor Neighborhood
A good neighbor to residents of a low-income area in central Fullerton
is what Cal State Fullerton aims to become, according to Donald S. Castro,
special assistant to Cal State Fullerton President Milton A. Gordon.
With a $599,525 grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Housing and
Urban Development, the university will expand the Valencia Community
Center — doubling its present size — and offer free services,
such as civics classes, leadership training and English lessons.
The three-year project will involve the Fullerton Collaborative, a coalition
of partners — Cal State Fullerton, Fullerton College, the city
of Fullerton, Fullerton School District, St. Jude Medical Center and
the Valencia Task Force. Students and volunteers will make up the majority
of the staff that will provide the services, and Castro will serve as
the project’s director.
The residents who will benefit are those who live in the Richman Park
neighborhood, an area bordered by Harbor Boulevard, the 91 Freeway,
and Commonwealth and Woods avenues. According to the 2000 U.S. Census,
6,447 people live there, and the average median income is $36,645.
Many of the adult residents are poor, have little or no formal education,
few job skills and speak little or no English, Castro noted.
“The fundamental problem faced by residents of the central Fullerton
area is that there is very limited space for the provision of services
to meet the needs of the community,” he said. “Many residents
lack automobiles and, therefore, have difficulty in being able to go
to off-site providers.”
As part of the project, CSUF will purchase two 12-foot-by-60-foot modular
units that will be attached to the existing Valencia Community Center
in Richman Park.
“The facility expansion will provide for dedicated rooms for computer
instruction, teenage use, storage space for toys and other materials
used for the preschool and after-school programs, one-on-one tutoring
and more use by children and their parents,” Castro said.
The expansion and a remodel of the existing building are expected to
be complete by next fall. Then, computer labs will open to Richman Park
area parents, and CSUF and Fullerton College students will conduct technology
workshops in Spanish and English to teach how to use the Internet to
obtain college and university eligibility, admissions and financial
Other services planned include:
At the same time CSUF will be adding to and remodeling the Valencia
Community Center, St. Jude Medical Center will build a 5,000-square-foot
clinic next to it and provide staff to offer medical and social services,
such as prenatal and pediatric care, urgent care, chronic disease management,
health education and mental health counseling. The clinic will be open
from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and services will be
- The formation of a parent group called Padres Promotores de
la Educacion (Parent Advocates for Education). Members will be parents
of junior high and high school students who will be trained to convey
information about the school system, requirements for graduation and
retention and higher education options to their peers through home visits,
informal neighborhood presentations and church or block association
- A CreditSmart program, which will be geared to helping potential
homeowners learn how to manage their money, establish and maintain credit
and plan for the future.
- Vocational and career training workshops that will help residents
develop programs related to safe neighborhoods, such as a junior cadet-type
program. The workshops also will help residents learn about landscape
design by participating in the creation and maintenance of a community
garden. Residents will be taught how to set up business systems and
develop technology skills. English-as-a-second-language classes will
be offered, along with sessions on how to mount publicity campaigns
and promote a positive community image.
- Civic education classes devoted to what it means to be an American
citizen will be conducted. The curriculum will include an overview of
American history, customs and culture. It also will prepare interested
pupils on what it takes to become a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
The clinic will serve as a venue for Cal State Fullerton’s obesity
prevention program and other wellness programs, which are sponsored
by the departments of nursing and kinesiology. The main purpose of the
project, noted Castro, is to empower Richman Park’s area residents.
“This is a community in need, a community that is not receiving
the kinds of services it needs, and this project will help citizens
in central Fullerton become more self-sufficient, financially sound,
English proficient, technologically adept and develop skills in a variety
of areas and take advantage of educational opportunities,” he
said. “The project demonstrates Cal State Fullerton’s commitment
to serving its community and being a good neighbor.”
Cal State Fullerton earned high marks from HUD for its grant application
for the project.
“The application process was highly competitive, and your institution’s
success indicates a strong capacity to make a difference in the lives
of the students and the community you serve,” noted Harold L. Bunce,
HUD’s deputy assistant secretary for economic affairs.
Contacts: Donald S. Castro at (714) 278-3231 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Mimi Ko Cruz of Public Affairs at (714) 278-7586 or email@example.com