Campus: Long Beach -- September 8, 2006

U.S. Department of Education Awards $703,426 to Talent Search Programs at Cal State Long Beach

The Educational Information Services (EIS)/Talent Search Program at California State University, Long Beach has been selected to receive two awards totaling $703,426 from the U.S. Department of Education to continue its educational opportunity outreach efforts with students in local middle schools and high schools.

Talent Search programs across the country identify and assist individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds who have the potential to succeed in higher education. These programs provide academic, career and financial counseling to participants and encourage them to graduate from high school and continue on to the post-secondary institution of their choice.

"The mission of the EIS/Talent Search Program is to service low-income, first-generation students who want to go on to higher education," explained Loretta Enriquez-Najera, director of EIS/Talent Search at CSULB. "That's any level of higher education after high school, whether it would be going to community college, a four-year public or private school, possibly even a trade school."

The first CSULB award of $483,426 is earmarked for the campus' original Talent Search Program, which was established in 1977. Working with 1,950 students annually, the program serves 13 high schools including Artesia, Bell, Cabrillo, El Rancho, Huntington Park, Long Beach Jordan, Lakewood, Lynwood, Millikan, Pioneer, Long Beach Poly, South Gate and Long Beach Wilson. The program also serves Franklin, Gage and Lynwood middle schools.

The second award of $220,000 will go to the university's other program, EIS/Talent Search South Bay, which was created in 2002. The South Bay program serves 600 students annually, working with Banning, Carson, Gardena, Narbonne and San Pedro high schools as well as Fleming and Peary middle schools.

The student activities vary from grade to grade, according to Enriquez-Najera, but by the time the students become high school seniors, they have the most immediate needs as EIS/Talent Search workers prepare them for the next level.

"Starting in the fall, we're working with 12th graders, and we help them to make sure they take the right college entrance exams," Enriquez-Najera explained. "The application period arrives around October, so we help them with college applications, applying to schools. Then in January and February, we are consumed with financial aid because most of our participants are low-income students. Our goal is to have all the seniors apply for financial aid, and actually, that is one of the mandates of our program."

Other activities for students from sixth through 11th grades include college field trips, career days and college-based workshops, and cultural field trips to such places as Jet Propulsion Laboratories. Younger students also take part in study and after-school workshops and programs about the college experience. There is even a parents evening, during which Talent Search officials let parents know what the program is doing with their children.

Enriquez-Najera also said the program hires 25 college students, trains them and places them back at the college centers at participating schools as student advisors. The college students work 20 hours a week at these centers, where the Talent Search students have access to program services.

"Since we deal with a lot of first-generation college students, they don't have a parent who can tell them how great college was or how much fun it was or what they need to do to prepare and apply," Enriquez-Najera pointed out. "We try to give them that perspective. So, at the high school level, we get first-year college students who were in our program and we have them come back to the schools and talk about college."

Enriquez-Najera, who has been with Talent Search since its beginning in 1977, said this additional funding will keep both programs running for four more years.

"Without this funding, we would not be able to put our student advisors into these local schools," she stated. "We have 23 sites that we provide services to…and if we didn't get this money, this program would shut down."

Enriquez-Najera expressed her thanks to the CSULB Foundation, which oversees the funding of the program, and Beth Ambos, associated vice president of research and external support, who helped with the proposal process in acquiring the grants. She also thanked the Division of Student Affairs and its vice president, Doug Robinson, for their continued support of the Talent Search Program.

Contacts: Rick Gloady, 562/985-5454
Shayne Schroeder, 562/985-1727

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