Man in white shirt hands a stack of new boxed computing devices to a female student inside a college administrative building.
Story Student Success

Student Tech Equity Levels Up with CSUCCESS

Hazel Kelly

Launched in the fall, the CSUCCESS initiative is bridging the digital divide by providing free iPads to thousands of CSU students. And it’s only getting started. 

Man in white shirt hands a stack of new boxed computing devices to a female student inside a college administrative building.

​Dr. José A. Gó​mez​, Cal State LA’s executive vice president and provost, helps distribute CSUCCESS iPad bundles through Cal State LA’s Laptop and Wi-Fi Hotspot Loan Program. Courtesy of  J. Emilio Flores, Cal State LA

 

​​​​​​​​Many of us may take for granted the latest mobile technology and Wi-Fi access at our fingertips. But many CSU students face financial challenges, placing barriers to success in completing their coursework.

At the start of the fall 2021 term, eight CSU campuses collectively distributed more than 22,700 brand-new iPad technology bundles (iPad Air, Apple Pencil and Apple Smart Keyboard Folio) to incoming first-year and transfer students as part of CSUCCESS (California State University Connectivity Contributing to Equity and Student Success).

The CSU's largest device-distribution program has already made significant inroads into improving digital equity across the state. Putting these tools for success directly in students' hands, free of charge, and ready to use on the first day of class, was a vision of CSU Chancellor Joseph I. Castro's.

“I am very excited about CSUCCESS," says Dr. Castro. “As a first-generation college student myself, I struggled financially. I want to make sure we remove these barriers for our talented students."

 "A lot of people grow up with financial struggles ​and ​​can't afford a laptop that could really help them out."  —​Erik Lopez, CSUN freshman

young man in polo shirt and protective face mask stands holding white boxes.CSUN freshman Erik Lopez received his iPad technology bundle in August 2021, just before the start of the fall semester. 

​​

Erik Lopez, a freshman majoring in civil engineering at CSUN, knows first-hand what lack of access to a personal computing device is like. “In high school, it was kind of hard because I would be doing my homework in the library or had to borrow my brother's laptop and maybe go to a Starbucks because we don't have Wi-Fi at home," says Lopez, who received a CSUCCESS iPad technology bundle in August, just before the fall semester began.

“It seems simple, but [lack of technology] can really hold you back. A lot of people really do grow up with struggles financially, and they can't afford a laptop that could really help them out. I would struggle a lot because I wouldn't be able to do my homework on my own time when I wanted to. This iPad from CSUCCESS will help me do my homework in a more flexible schedule."​

[story continues below video]

Tools for Success in Students' Hands

CSUCCESS offered a new iPad Air, Apple Pencil and Apple Smart Keyboard Folio to every incoming first-year and transfer student at eight participating CSU campuses during Phase One. Students at CSUN share their thoughts about the program as they pick up their CSUCCESS technology bundles at the start of the fall 2021 term.



Many students across California reported having difficulties accessing quality devices and reliable internet during the pandemic. CSU campuses stepped up by offering mobile hot spots, short-term loaner laptops and adding Wi-Fi to parking lots to help overcome some of these obstacles. The CSUCCESS initiative builds on these efforts to address the issue at scale, making more high-quality devices available to more students—and they get to keep them for the duration of their CSU undergraduate experience.

close up of young woman smiling at cameraCal State LA student Anayelia Mejia transferred from Taft College in the fall and received a CSUCCESS technology bundle. Mejia's parents immigrated from Mexico and she is the first in her family to attend college.


Anayelia Mejia, a Cal State LA transfer student majoring in child development, is using her new CSUCCESS iPad to stay organized with homework and take notes in class with the Apple Pencil. Like Lopez, Mejia also faced challenges with technology access during the pandemic while studying at Taft College.

“I didn't have the proper devices to make my homework assignments as files and I struggled a lot. Using only my cell phone during the last two years for turn-in on Canvas was indeed a bit of a struggle," says Mejia who is a first-generation college student.

Bridging the digital divide is not only critical for student success, it's also key to achieving educational equity.

“The CSUCCESS program shows tremendous promise to advance our twin goals of student success and educational equity by helping our students bridge the digital divide and establish a technological foundation for achievement from day one of their college journey," says Chancellor Castro. Eliminating equity gaps in graduation rates is one of the CSU's biggest priorities as part of Graduation Initiative 2025.

The CSU plans to expand the CSUCCESS program to additional campuses in January 2022, as part of Phase Two. Incoming first-year and transfer students at all participating campuses are eligible to receive a device bundle in January by registering with their campus.

“This is only the beginning. Eventually, we hope that all incoming CSU students will have access to their own personal device to help them succeed academically and beyond," says Mike Pronovost, interim director of Systemwide IT Mobile & Shared Services at the CSU Chancellor's Office.

 

Visit the CSUCCESS website to learn more about this game-changing initiative. ​


man in suit stands next to two women at an outdoor tent holding new boxed iPadCSU Channel Islands' Interim President Richard Yao stands with a student and staff member during a CSUCCESS device distribution event on the campus. 

man in protective face masks hands a stack of white boxes to a person in front of counterCSUN Campus Store department manager Brian Osborn hands ​a stack of new CSUCCESS Apple devices to a student. 

Three male students stand in a row holding up their new boxed iPads.  CSUN students pose after receiving their new CSUCCESS iPads at the Campus Store.  ​​


woman wearing backpack stands at counter setting up her new iPadA CSU Bakersfield student powers up her new CSUCCESS iPad at a campus distribution event in August 2021.  
​​

woman in blue sut talks to a student inside an office environment with technology all aroundCSU Bakersfield President Lynnette Zelezny speaks with a student as he unboxes his new CSUCCESS iPad during a campus distribution event. 


man stands at looking into a window office where another man is holding a stack of white boxes A CSU Bakersfield student waits to receive his CSUCCESS Apple technology bundle from a campus IT staff member. 


easel sign advertising new ipads for students sits on concrete pathway of a college campusSignage at the CSU Bakersfield campus points students to a CSUCCESS device distribution location. 


woman holding ipad up inside a car while another woman stands outside the car in a light blue suit.CSU San Marcos President Ellen Neufeldt helps distribute CSUCCESS devices at a drive-up event on campus. 


ipad and white sylus device sits on a desk overlapping an open book.First-year and incoming transfer students at participating CSU campuses are eligible to receive a new iPad Air, Smart Keyboard Folio and Apple Pencil to enhance their academic experience. 

Technology