In partnership with its donors, the California State University provides students resources, enriching experiences and opportunities to excel in and out of the classroom. By funding hands-on learning, career engagement and research activities, this generous support gives California’s future leaders essential tools to thrive in their careers of choice, including education, health care, technology, communications, agriculture and so many others. Although the CSU’s 4 million alumni are indeed spread out across the globe, about 84 percent remain in California, with one in 10 employees across the state holding a CSU degree. Together, CSU alumni are working at all levels to serve their communities, power the economy and lead California to its brightest future.
California State University, Bakersfield received $1 million from the Ravi and Naina Patel Foundation to create and support the Mahatma Gandhi Fellowship for Social Entrepreneurship. The Patels hope the fellowship will encourage young entrepreneurs to operate businesses that are environmentally and socially sustainable.
“The Gandhi Fellowship for Social Entrepreneurship positions CSU Bakersfield as a leader in an emerging discipline in business,” said President Lynnette Zelezny. “Social entrepreneurship applies a value-based approach to business innovation to improve the quality of work and life regionally. Through research and program development, faculty and student teams will approach business development in a new way, exploring issues like sustainability, building self-sufficient communities and creating workspaces that respect work-life balance.”
In addition, the university received two $500,000 commitments—one from the SeedCore Foundation and the other from the Skeet Varner Foundation—to create a Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation on campus that seeks to spur business growth in the region.
“Our community has identified the need to both facilitate small business startups and to sustain them as they grow,” said John Stark, interim dean of CSU Bakersfield's School of Business and Public Administration. “Yet currently, there is no comprehensive support system for these efforts in the area. These gifts will help make the dreams of future entrepreneurs and small-business owners come true.”
These collective gifts are just the latest example of the extraordinary support CSUB has received over the years to help students become successful community leaders.
Bruce Burnworth, chief empowerment officer at Healthy Soil Biomes, a charitable
limited liability company, donated $1 million to the Center for Regenerative Agriculture
and Resilient Systems (CRARS) at California State University, Chico. His nonprofit
aims to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable agriculture. When Burnworth
discovered an ally in CRARS, he toured the farm and became even more inspired.
Burnworth wants to grow the number of undergraduate and graduate students
participating in Chico State’s applied research program. Through large pledges and a
series of gifts in 2021-22, his generosity will also support the university’s research to
promote a healthy, living soil and optimal carbon accrual in soil worldwide.
“It takes a world to save the world,” he said. “All of these ideas are great, but they don’t
spread to the people unless we have an alliance of people helping to spread them.”
Snap Inc., developer of the social media platform Snapchat, has gifted $5 million to California State University, Dominguez Hills to create an institute focused on addressing equity gaps in computing education. This is the largest single donation the university has received.
Housed in the CSU Dominguez Hills College of Education, the institute will center on equity and access, particularly for students with disabilities as well as bilingual, multilingual and dual-language learners. Through vital partnerships with Los Angeles-area school districts, the institute will make high-quality computer science education an integral part of the K-12 experience for all students.
“Integrating computer science education into the curriculum of K-12 schools in underserved communities is an important step in closing the digital divide that leaves many would-be scholars on the outside looking in,” said CSU Dominguez Hills President Thomas A. Parham. “With Snap Inc.’s help, CSUDH will smash that digital divide and create additional technology-savvy, academically engaged leaders throughout Southern California.”
California State Polytechnic University, Pomona received $100,000 from political
science professor Renford Reese to fund student study-abroad opportunities. Reese
leads annual, short-term study-abroad trips to places such as Ghana, Mumbai, Brussels
and Hong Kong for Cal Poly Pomona students. However, the experience can be a
financial stretch for many students.
This gift awards $500 scholarships to 20 undergraduate students over a decade.
Reese hopes the funds will put study abroad within reach for all students, including
formerly incarcerated students participating in the university’s Project Rebound
program, as well as Renaissance Scholars and McNair Scholars.
“The university, the students, the staff and my colleagues—they have given me
everything,” Reese said. “I want to give back to the university what the university has
given me. I didn’t want to do it in my will. I wanted to do it while I am still living.”
Thanks to a gift from entrepreneur and Hornet alumnus Rekhi Singh,
Sacramento State University students will be learning the art of joy.
Singh’s donation established the university’s first endowed professorship in
happiness. Meliksah Demir, one of the nation’s experts on the subject, holds
The position is aimed at promoting happiness through academic research,
curriculum development and partnerships across campus. Demir said he
wants to teach students how to channel positive feelings to live happier,
more fulfilling lives. Students in his course will be asked to practice
happiness-promoting activities for one week and reflect on their state of
mind before and after the exercise. “Increasing your happiness level is
possible, but it requires intention, motivation and work,” Demir said.
Ultimately, he wants to set up “happiness booths” on campus that members
of the Sacramento State community can visit briefly to listen to music, sip
coffee or meet with a friend to boost their spirits.
As part of Adobe’s new Anchor School Program, the creative technology company is
giving $1 million to San José State University because it is a federally designated
Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI). At HSIs, more than 25 percent of its undergraduate
full-time students identify as Hispanic.
The gift supports the creation of an on-campus HSI Institute that will serve as a
central university resource to advance “culturally sustaining programming, curricula
and research,” according to Magdalena Barrera, vice provost for faculty success and
professor of Chicana and Chicano studies.
“Built on a holistic understanding of the experiences, strengths and needs of the Latinx
students, families and communities we serve, the HSI Institute will enable SJSU to
recognize and amplify the powerful ways in which students’ campus and home lives
are intertwined and inform each other,” Barrera said.
California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo’s College of Engineering
received an eight-figure bequest intention from the Robert N. Noyce Trust to
establish The Noyce School of Applied Computing. The new interdisciplinary
school combines three departments—electrical engineering, computer science and
software engineering, and computer engineering—under one umbrella to create
interdisciplinary collaboration among departments and faculty performing applied
computing across the university.
“This donation will help to fulfill a vision the faculty of the college has been promoting
for a long time, which is to establish a school of applied computing at Cal Poly,” said
Amy Fleischer, dean of the College of Engineering.
The Noyce School will provide faculty with additional resources for teaching and
applied research and offer opportunities for undergraduate students to advance their
interests in teaching and learning. Students will also benefit from paid internships in
their chosen industry and dedicated mentors who will offer guidance and counseling.
Alumni Donors Invest in the Future