The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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CSUN receives $1 million to prep students for college

CSUN received a $1 million grant funded by the U.S. Department of Education to set up the Upward Bound Project, which will assist 50 high school students from low-income families to prepare for college.

“This project gives unprivileged students the opportunity to receive academic assistance, financial aid and tutoring in mathematics, literature, science and foreign languages, which are core subject areas,” said Javier Hernandez, director of CSUN’s Student Outreach and Recruitment Services.

“This project will also be working closely with the parents to create an educational home environment,” he said.

The students, who will be chosen from Birmingham High School, Reseda High School and Verdugo Hills High School, have not yet been selected. The applications for the students, which will be distributed among the three schools, should be available in early October, Hernandez said.

While Hernandez said he hopes that the students will attend CSUN after high school graduation, it is not the purpose of the program.

“The intent is to make these students eligible for college. The program will provide advising and exposure to an academic institution,” Hernandez said.

The program will receive $250,000 each year for the next four years. Some of the money will be used to hire staff members for the program, sponsor campus tours and even hold a four-week residential program for the students, Hernandez said.

The program will work with the high school counselors at each school as well as the students and their families.

“We have received letters of support from the principals and they are looking forward to this project,” Hernandez said.

Principal Marsha Coates from Birmingham High School said it would also help students prepare for and pass the California high school exit exam.

Although students are offered several chances to pass the exit exam in high school and even two years after their senior year, Coates realizes how upsetting it can be for students who do not pass by graduation day.

“It can be very upsetting for students and their families when the student has missed the graduation ceremony and was not allowed to walk on stage with their friends,” Coates said.

While Birmingham High School provides services, such as English tutoring, to help students pass the exam, this project will differ from the rest, Coates said.

“The programs available now are for students on their own time, but this program would be during the school day and would provide them with intense preparation,” she said. “I am confident about this great program.”

The three schools were identified as having a substantial number of low-income families and a substantial number of students receiving free lunch, Hernandez said.

Besides the three high schools selected for the project, Hernandez said the outreach program several high schools with a substantial number of low-income families in the area.

Shelley Bartenstein, a CSUN grant writer and the president of the American Association of Grant Professionals for the Southern California Chapter, helped assist Hernandez in the grant writing process.

The last time the Upward Bound Project grant was submitted was in 1992, but was not successful, she said.

“It is especially exciting to revive it after such a long time,” Bartenstein said.

Bartenstein said receiving funds for a grant like the Upward Bound Project is challenging because of the competition among different proposals and different institutions.

She also said these schools were identified as having the most students from low-income families by looking at many indicators of poverty such as employment and income levels of the families.

“This defined the need for the project,” she said. “Lots of kids in our neighborhoods do not have role models. I strongly support this grant because it reaches down to the lower levels and helps these students achieve their goals.”

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