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Department of Education Grant Expands Access and Support to Latinx and Underrepresented Students

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Nearly one in five Americans has some college education but no degree. Completion rates are even lower for Black, Latinx/Hispanic, Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaska Native students. To address these issues, Cal State Fullerton has created Fullerton ASPIRE: Access, Support, Pathways, and Inclusive Resources for Everyone, to improve graduation and retention rates of underserved students (such as FirstGen, Pell-recipients, etc.). Secondly, this funding will help build institutional capacity in data collection and assessment and fiscal stability to increase education access affordability for underserved students. Fullerton ASPIRE is funded by the Department of Education for $2,999,870 starting Oct. 1, 2023 and ending Sept. 30, 2028. The project director is Yuying Tsong, AVP for Student Academic Support; and the project co-director is Martha Enciso, AVP Student Affairs.

Listed below are some of the ways Fullerton ASPIRE hopes to achieve its goals:

Strategy One: Inclusive Access and Pathways
–    Transfer Open House. Held each Fall/Spring targeting underserved community college students who are either admitted or considering transfer to CSUF. They are invited to attend with their families. Spanish translators and materials will be available. 
–    Transfer Summit. Held prior to Fall/Spring orientations, this will target underserved students who have confirmed acceptance to CSUF. Students are connected to resources, internships, high-impact practices, grad program access and pathways. This would be similar to a summer bridge program, but designed for transfer students prior to starting CSUF.
–    Summer Bridge 2.0 (for rising sophomores). This two-day event at each college will focus on discipline-specific career/internship explorations and graduate programs access and pathways, targeting underserved students.

Strategy Two: Enhance Support and Care
–   Develop and deepen a sense of belonging through a 30 minute-online module of reading and writing exercise with discussions in class. 
–    Two fulltime academic advisors will serve as transfer success specialists, offering academic advising to admitted community college students and those considering transferring to CSUF. There will be outreach to community colleges offering major explorations, transfer workshops, etc.
–    A target of 10 faculty each semester will demonstrate a community of practice as it relates to equitable pedagogy.

Strategy Three: Expand Capacity
–    There will be an annual administration of Beginning College Survey of Student Engagement.
–    Department of Education funds of $232,860, with matching funds from CSUF, will establish a Fullerton ASPIRE scholarship for underserved students.

Yuying Tsong