The California State University system transforms
individual lives and drives the state’s workforce and
economy. Our students graduate with job-ready skills,
empowered to thrive and contribute to the success
of their communities. Donor support is essential to
helping students attend college, reach their academic
goals and build a better future. Through the dedication
of our donors, champions and partners, the CSU
and its campuses are building strong and inclusive
communities across the Golden State.
Following a challenging childhood during which he became deaf as a result of contracting spinal meningitis, Robert R. Davila felt compelled to help others in the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. His donation of $250,000 to create the Robert R. and Donna E. Davila Endowment at California State University, Fresno will support Spanish-language programming within the campus’s Silent Garden. The garden was created in 2008 to foster opportunity, understanding and awareness for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community within California’s Central Valley.
“This generous gift will usher in advanced opportunities for the Silent Garden to flourish, while providing timely and important resources for Spanish-speaking families, as well as support for educational professionals in the field,” said Denise Seabert, dean of the College of Health and Human Services.
The endowment will allow the Silent Garden to offer a Spanish-language conference every four years, bringing together talented presenters representing a variety of experiences in raising and educating Latinx children who are deaf and hard of hearing.
Mike and Arline Walter provided a huge boost to the Long Beach Community Internship Project (LBCIP) at California State University, Long Beach, which connects Long Beach College Promise students to internships at local nonprofits. The couple—the lead donors to CSULB’s Walter Pyramid athletic facility that bears their names—were drawn to the internship program because it is a beneficial experience for the university, its students, the City of Long Beach and area nonprofits. Participating students spend time in a classroom as well as at their chosen nonprofits.
Many students can’t afford to participate in unpaid internships. The Walters funded $1,500 participation awards for all students in the program’s summer cohort. “What I appreciate about the Walters is that they walk the walk,” said LBCIP Director Beth Manke. “It’s easy for people to talk about the importance of education, access and equitable participation; it’s another to really walk the walk, and not just with your money. It would be appreciated and sufficient just to fund the project, but they really go above and beyond and are interested in connecting with the students.”
Bank of America awarded the Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship (IECE) at California State University, San Bernardino a $200,000 grant to help businesses owned by underserved Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) that have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The grant is expected to enable the IECE to help about 250 business owners create or sustain approximately 650 jobs and generate an economic impact of nearly $4 million for the region.
“BIPOC small businesses are one of the fastest-growing segments, but they have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Michael Stull, program director of the IECE, director of the CSUSB School of Entrepreneurship and professor of entrepreneurship. “The support of the Bank of America Foundation is extremely well-timed, as the resources will help these businesses rebuild, respond to new market opportunities and build resiliency so they are able to withstand future economic challenges.”
David desJardins and Nancy Blachman gifted San Francisco State University $25,000 to support the campus’s Math Circles (SFMC) program, which provides engaging and interactive after-school math workshops for elementary and middle school students. The program is aimed at helping participants conquer a fear of math that has kept many students from pursuing careers in STEM or computer science.
Run by the university’s Center for Science and Mathematics Education in collaboration with the College of Science & Engineering and the Graduate College of Education, SFMC is transformative for students enrolled in the program as well as for SFSU students who serve as teachers in the program.
“The next generation’s ability to think critically will be vital as we collectively face some of the most daunting challenges in human history,” said Blachman, president and founder of Variable Symbols Inc. “I support SF Math Circles because I want more students to realize the beauty of mathematics and enjoy problem exploration and discovery.”
San Diego State University alumni Ben and Nicole “Nikki” Clay gifted their alma mater with $750,000 to support the 34-acre River Park at San Diego State Mission Valley. Their endowment will help fund the development, operating and maintenance expenses for the project, which will include native plantings, multiuse sports fields, play structures, pedestrian and bike trails and more.
Long regarded as one of San Diego’s power couples, the Clays met as
first-year students at what is now known as SDSU when both were members
of Associated Students.
The prospect of a river park as part of the broader SDSU Mission Valley development “resonated with both of us,” said Nikki Clay. The university’s purchase of the city-owned stadium land “was a gift from San Diego State to the community,” she said, “and we wanted to be part of that.”
“The river is like the heart of the region,” Ben added. “You have to take care of your heart. The folks who are putting the SDSU Mission Valley project together understood that very well and right out of the box.”