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Eight Projects Awarded Scott-Jewett Grants to Champion Student Innovation

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A third round of grants from Cal State Fullerton’s Scott-Jewett Fund for Student Success and Innovation will fund eight projects focused on expanding student-led research, elevating social justice centered curriculum, bolstering the transfer pipeline and more. 

The fund was created in 2021 after the university received a historic $40 million gift from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. Three million dollars was dedicated to supporting student success and innovation through a social justice lens. Internal individuals or groups could apply for grants up to $150,000. In the first two years, 17 projects received $2 million in grants. In its final year, $1 million was awarded to eight proposals.

This year’s grantees include: 

Advancing Educational Equity and Social Justice: From Campus to Classrooms

According to the California Teachers Association, 20% of California’s teachers plan to leave the field within three years, citing burnout, political and ideological attacks, lack of support, and low pay as primary factors affecting their job satisfaction. 

To address these issues and boost support for educators, this project will include the development of a Summer Institute on Transformative Teaching. The institute will provide professional support to CSUF students, alumni and community members who are early and mid-career educators. Participants will collaborate with CSUF faculty and other local educators to develop social justice-oriented curriculum and strategies for navigating social and political controversies that impact their teaching. The project is led by Alison Dover, professor of secondary education. 

Black CommUnity: Preparing Future Black Communications Professionals

Launched in August 2022, Black CommUnity creates an affirming space for Black communications students to access career coaching, build professional networks, and find communications internships and jobs.

Spearheaded by Jasmine Phillips Meertins, assistant professor of communications, and Amber Chitty Wilson, lecturer in communications, this funding will support monthly workshops and networking events as well as trips to the 2026 National Association of Black Journalists convention in Washington, D.C., and site visits to local media companies throughout Southern California.

Funding Career Coaching Sessions for Underrepresented Women in the Women’s Leadership Program

In the College of Business and Economics, the Women’s Leadership Program prepares students to succeed in top leadership positions by supporting them with professional development, networking and career exploration. This mission is contributing toward the solution of gender parity in the workplace.

This funding seeks to expand career coaching sessions, giving 100 additional students the opportunity to learn from a certified career coach who has experience in business leadership. The project will also support the hosting of a conference on International Women’s Day, which will invite CSUF students to network with industry leaders in Orange County. The project is led by Lori Muse and Goli Sadri, professors of management. 

Grupo de Teatro en Español: Equity Initiative for Student-led Latinx Theatre Events

Grupo de Teatro en Español is a student-led organization that uses performing arts to celebrate and tell stories about the Latinx community and its culture. 

Led by Spanish graduate student Ashley Valenzuela Chairez and Judit Palencia Gutierrez, assistant professor of modern languages and literatures, funding for this project will support the development of workshops, two annual theatrical performances, two annual bilingual theatre festivals. Through these performances, students will explore socially relevant issues within the Latinx community, such as questions about identity and relationships between immigrant parents and their children.

Project Rebound is a program that supports formerly incarcerated students with academic resources and provides them opportunities for leadership and professional development to help them achieve a college degree. Led by Russ Espinoza, professor of psychology, this project will bolster student support in the program by providing additional reintegration counseling and academic mentoring. 

Students will also collaborate with Espinoza to conduct research on social justice issues in the legal system and submit proposals to present their research findings at national conferences.

Summer Program in Public Interest Law

Led by Robert Castro, a licensed attorney and professor of political science and criminal justice, this project includes a 10-day summer program during which students will have an opportunity to learn about public interest law and gain practical experience. The skills they develop over the summer will be crucial in the fall as they will assist with real cases in collaboration with Castro and veteran civil rights lawyers from the Legal Aid Society of Los Angeles. 

Working on a variety of cases in such areas as human trafficking and asylum hearings, students will learn critical skills to prepare them for law school and beyond. This includes learning how to interview clients, navigate ethics in law and evaluate evidence. 

Transfer Titan Success

The Center for Educational Partnerships, which supports students from low-income, first-generation and underrepresented backgrounds, will implement strategies to strengthen the transfer pipeline and onboard 600-700 transfer students.

Partnering with six local community colleges, the funding will support the development of several events centered around transfer student success, including the Transfer Experience at CSUF and the Pathway Conference during which students learn about resources and support on campus. The project is led by Raymond Lu, associate director of the Center for Educational Partnerships. 

Sustaining Success: Black Undergraduate Student Creative Activities and Research + (BUSCAR+)

Led by Terri Patchen, professor of elementary and bilingual education, Bolstering Black Undergraduate Student Creative Activities and Research will support and fund Black undergraduate fellows’ participation in research and creative activities.

Through the program, BUSCAR undergraduate fellows will collaborate with Black faculty members to conduct research and advance their findings through professional conference presentations and journal manuscripts.