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Preparing Teens for Higher Ed

United Way Awards $100,000 Grant for College Readiness
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Cal State Fullerton has been awarded a $100,000 grant from Orange County United Way to provide college-exposure programming for middle and high school students participating in the agency’s Destination Graduation program.

Destination Graduation is a countywide partnership that provides at-risk students — many of whom will be the first in their families to attend college — with career exploration opportunities, field trips and student-parent workshops focused on higher education.

As part of their partnership, Cal State Fullerton will provide Destination Graduation middle school students with additional college and career-bound opportunities to visit the campus and envision a future for themselves in college. Destination Graduation high school students, meanwhile, can take tours of the campus while participating in academic and college planning sessions, including financial aid planning.

CSUF President Mildred García, who serves on the Orange County United Way Board, has supported Destination Graduation since its inception more than four years ago. She believes the new partnership is a natural “next step” to seeing the program’s students enter college, graduate and become successful in life.

“One of the many challenges facing first-generation college students is understanding everything that goes into the process,” García said. “From registration and financial aid to study habits, academics and campus life, this program will greatly help prepare and acclimate students for success.”

Cal State Fullerton and United Way will co-design the program to meet the unique needs of 20 participating local schools. At certain Destination Graduation schools, students will participate in Experience Cal State Fullerton college exposure programs.

“We’re excited about this latest partnership with Cal State Fullerton,” announced Max Gardner, president and CEO of Orange County United Way. “The University has long shared our passion for unlocking the potential of middle and high school students in Orange County and preparing them to become the leaders of tomorrow.”

Other programs that may be offered include:

  • Kids to College: Introduces students to higher education, STEM majors through hands-on lessons, college life via a student panel and activities that expose students to higher education.
  • Titan Days: College exposure days engage students in the college admissions process and requirements, the financial impact of a college education and goal setting.

At selected Destination Graduation schools, students and their parents will receive information and resources on how to navigate the college application and financial aid process. Programming will include:

  • Student Workshops focusing on Academic Planning, College Options, Researching Colleges and Universities, Financial Aid and Applying for Scholarships.
  • Parent Workshops covering College admissions requirements, “How to Support My Child,” financial aid and “How to Pay for College.”

All programs will be offered to parents in English, Spanish and Vietnamese both at the students’ high school campuses and through tours of the Cal State Fullerton campus.

Schools participating in the Destination Graduation program that can look forward to the Cal State Fullerton college preparatory program include, by district:


  • Anaheim High School
  • Katella High School
  • Savanna High School
  • South Junior High School
  • Brookhurst Junior High School


  • Los Amigos High School
  • Santiago High School
  • Doig Intermediate School
  • Fitz Intermediate School


  • Huntington Beach High School
  • Westminster High School


  • Century High School
  • Godinez Fundamental High School
  • Middle College High School
  • Segerstrom High School
  • Carr Intermediate School
  • McFadden Intermediate School
  • Mendez Fundamental Intermediate School
  • Spurgeon Intermediate School


  • Johnson Intermediate School

The Destination Graduation program is a key component of Orange County United Way’s FACE 2024 10-year communitywide action plan. The FACE 2024 Education goal is to cut Orange County’s high school dropout rate in half.

Media Contacts:

Melba Castro, CSUF Educational Partnerships, 657-278-5579
Katherine Ransom, Orange County United Way, 949-263-6176
Pamela McLaren, 657-278-4852