A CSU degree doesn’t just change lives—it transforms entire family trees. As one of the nation’s most powerful engines of social mobility, the CSU has a lifelong impact on graduates, significantly boosting earning capacity and changing the trajectory of their families for generations. Donors power our ability to impact current and future students through a number of support efforts, including targeted scholarships and grants for student-parents. Frequently, this generosity originates from alumni who credit the CSU with providing the training and skills they needed to achieve success following graduation. As they pay it forward, a ripple effect is created that underscores the undeniable value of higher education.
CSU campuses earned top spots among national universities in U.S. News & World Report 2024 Best Colleges rankings for promoting social mobility. These rankings measure how well universities empower students—specifically, those who are first-generation or receive Pell Grants— to improve their socioeconomic status.
In the same measure, the following CSU campuses dominated the Regional Universities in the West rankings.
More than half of the CSU’s student body are from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds, with nearly half of undergraduates receiving a Pell Grant, and nearly one-third of undergraduate students are the first in their families to attend college. The university system is privileged to serve these students. Equipped with their CSU education, they will lead and thrive in the world.
The Jeff T. Green Family Foundation has given California State University Channel Islands $5.2 million to significantly expand the four-year scholarship program launched in fall 2022 for potential first-generation college graduates who have average high school GPAs. The scholarship money will support scholars and improve retention.
“Improving access to high-quality education is one of the most meaningful things we can do to improve lifelong opportunity for all,” said Jeff Green, founder of the nonprofit Data Philanthropy. “Working with the highly engaged leaders from CI, we’ve built a data-driven scholarship and mentorship program that provides opportunities for students who might not otherwise think they have a path to higher education. The program also addresses and mitigates key issues that might derail a student’s path through education.”
Longtime Channel Island supporters Yolanda Benitez and Dave Rodriguez are also improving the lives of students. The Camarillo couple recently made a generous planned gift to the university for scholarships benefiting first-generation college students who have ties to local farmworkers.
“We wanted to give young people a helping hand,” Benitez said. “College was the door out of poverty for me and my family. It opened up the world of possibility, and I knew it could do the same for others. The scholarships we have established will open that door for other young people who can help better the world.”
Jon E. Krabbenschmidt credits a significant portion of his business success to his experience at California State University, Chico and wants future students to have the same opportunity. In this spirit, he has thrown his support behind the university’s dream of replacing Glenn Hall—the existing building for the College of Business that opened in 1958—with a state-of-the-art building, and he’s willing to take the first step to help achieve that. Krabbenschmidt donated $5 million as an initial commitment toward an ultimate $10 million gift dedicated to the construction of the new facility.
“Jon believes in the vision we have for the College of Business and our commitment to providing a 21st century education that accommodates cutting-edge learning experiences and fosters the collaborative environments that are critical for the field of business. This gift supports the centers that provide hands-on, real-world learning before students earn their degrees,” said Chico State President Emerita Gayle Hutchinson.
Several students with children at California State University, Monterey Bay will benefit from a recent $20,000 grant from continuing donor Debbie Juran. “One of the challenges for these parents is the cost of housing,” said Joanna Snawder-Manzo, a care manager in the Office of Student Life. “If they’re a single parent, it can be very expensive.”
Snawder-Manzo said Juran’s latest donation will help four or five students with housing. “The students I’m thinking of are single parents in a master’s program with an internship, many of which are required but are unpaid. I’m also thinking of students who have children with special needs. If those students don’t have to worry about paying rent, then maybe they can afford the upkeep on a car to get their children to appointments.”
In addition to housing funding, Juran has given $10,000 to establish the Beyond Tomorrow fund for the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, which will help students who are working unpaid internships during school breaks.
Gary and Marlene Peacock, married 45 years, met as students at California State University, Fresno in the 1970s. “Fresno State provided a platform for us to be successful in the corporate world,” Gary said.
The Peacocks recently committed $7 million to their alma mater through their estate to fund additional scholarships from their endowment that will provide support to students majoring in plant science or animal science in the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology. This planned gift serves as a tribute to Marlene’s father, Robert Krahenbuhl, who spent most of his career in the agribusiness industry.
“The Peacock scholarship will help me be the best agriculture teacher I can be,” said Ayden Garcia, who is working toward a bachelor’s in agricultural education and plans to earn a credential as an agricultural specialist. “This support has allowed me to dedicate my time to my academic studies and pursue student leadership opportunities.”
Several CSU campuses were recognized in the Wall Street Journal’s 2024 Social Mobility Rankings. These rankings consider a university’s affordability, graduation rates, number of students who come from low-income backgrounds and impact on postgraduation salaries.
The California State University system’s four million alumni include leaders in every major industry, from aerospace to entertainment and everything in between. Many of our alumni come from humble origins and all attribute their success to a CSU education. Explore alumni profiles and learn what it means to be 4 million strong at