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Press Release Diversity

CSU to Receive $1.5 Million from Mellon Foundation to Expand Ethnic Studies Pathways


The CSU is one of five public universities selected to receive larger grants from Mellon’s Affirming Multivocal Humanities initiative.

A group of diverse students smiling and sitting together.

The California State University (CSU) has been awarded $1.5 million from the Mellon Foundation to help increase the number of credit-bearing programs that link ethnic studies concepts to gender and sexuality studies. The CSU is among five public universities receiving select larger grants as part of the Mellon Foundation’s Affirming Multivocal Humanities initiative. In all, the foundation is awarding more than $18 million to 95 curricular programs across the nation. 

“The CSU is grateful to the Mellon Foundation for this generous funding, which is an important step to expand pathways and enhance classroom experiences in ways that intentionally link race and ethnicity and gender and sexuality concepts into the course content,” said Laura Massa, interim associate vice chancellor of Academic and Faculty Programs at the CSU Chancellor’s Office. “These disciplines are critical for creating a shared language and understanding of our students’ diverse histories, backgrounds and experiences—and ultimately a more equitable society.” 

Grant funding will go to the CSUs to bolster existing ethnic studies programs and support the development of new programming. Support for existing programs could include adding new degree concentrations, establishing transfer pathways and creating blended bachelor’s-master’s degree programs. The CSU Chancellor’s Office also plans to host a convening of ethnic studies and gender and sexuality studies faculty from across the system to gather collective input which will inform grant distribution.  

As a result of university policy changes and state legislation, CSU students are required to complete a three-unit course in ethnic studies to graduate. With the most ethnically, economically and academically diverse student body in the nation, the CSU is well positioned to advance nuanced scholarship on the breadth of the human experience through race, ethnic, gender and sexuality studies. 

Half of CSU students are from historically underserved communities and 21 of the 23 campuses are designated as Hispanic Serving Institutions. The CSU provides more than half of all undergraduate degrees earned in the state of California by Latinx, African American and Native American students combined.

About the California State University 

The California State University is the nation's largest four-year public university system, providing transformational opportunities for upward mobility to more than 450,000 students from all socioeconomic backgrounds. More than half of CSU students are people of color, and nearly one-third of them are first-generation college students. Because the CSU's 23 universities provide a high-quality education at an incredible value, they are rated among the best in the nation for promoting social mobility in national college rankings from U.S. News & World Report, the Wall Street Journal and Washington Monthly. The CSU powers California and the nation, sending nearly 127,000 career-ready graduates into the workforce each year. In fact, one in every 20 Americans holding a college degree earned it at the CSU. Connect with and learn more about the CSU in the CSU newsroom. 


About The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation  

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is the nation’s largest supporter of the arts and humanities.  Since 1969, the Foundation has been guided by its core belief that the humanities and arts are essential to human understanding. The Foundation believes that the arts and humanities are where we express our complex humanity, and that everyone deserves the beauty, transcendence, and freedom that can be found there.  Through our grants, we seek to build just communities enriched by meaning and empowered by critical thinking, where ideas and imagination can thrive. Learn more at mellon.org. ​