Story Preparing for College

Laying Foundations for Student Success: The CSU Summer Algebra Institute

Christianne Salvador

The CSU Summer Algebra Institute boosts high schoolers’ math and quantitative reasoning skills for the path to college.

​​High​ school students spent the summer improving their math skills and college readiness with the help of credentialed math instructors at the CSU Summer Algebra Institute. Photo courtesy of California State University, Dominguez Hills.


​​​​​Hundreds of California high school students participated in the CSU Summer Algebra Instit​ute (SAI) this summer and are now better prepared for success in college. Jevon Wimberly, a rising high school senior from Southern California, is one example.

“The Summer Algebra Institute has changed my morale for the 12th grade," says Wimberly. “The instructors gave me the respect of a college student by letting me choose when I have had enough of math, but they guided me back on to track by showing me that even if a college equation was outside my zone of understanding, there was always another way to solve it."

For the past 13 years, the CSU has offered SAI—the six-week summer program to improve the math skills of middle school students and increase college readiness. This year, the CSU shifted SAI's focus to high school students in an effort to provide greater support in their college preparation, particularly in math and quantitative reasoning.

SAI received increased funding this year, doubling the amount of its credentialed math instructors, tutors and students. Since the CSU Chancellor's Office presided over the program, 2019 is the biggest summer yet for SAI as it hosted more than 600 students at 15 sites statewide.

Students receive one-on-one math instruction, individualized curriculum and special projects in science, technology, engineering and math, including coding and robotics. The institute also educates students about the value of a college education and provides engaging CSU campus tours, exposing students to the unique offerings of their local CSU campus. All credentialed math instructors are trained to cultivate growth mindset throughout the program.

“By increasing students' college preparation levels while they're in high school, SAI increases the number of students who complete the general education (GE) math requirement in their first year of college," says Hongde Hu, an SAI coordinator and professor of math and statistics at CSU Monterey Bay.

SAI is funded by the CSU and is made possible through partnerships between CSU campuses and local nonprofit organizations, which serve as SAI host sites. Many sites are located in underserved communities, including the YMCA in Los Angeles and the Love & Unity Christian Fellowship in Compton, California, to better reach underrepresented and first-generation students.

SAI is evolving to further support Graduation Initiative 2025 by partnering with community organizations that share the CSU's goal of improving student achievement. Visit the CSU Summer Algebra Institute website for more information. ​