EOP awarded $35,000 grant to tackle educational inequity


Chris Torres

CSUN’s Educational Opportunity Program offices are located in Bayramian Hall. The program serves historically low-income, first-generation and educationally-disadvantaged students.

Jazmin Navarrete, Reporter

The Educational Opportunity Program received a grant of $35,000 to implement a targeted recruitment project that will help African American high school seniors and community college transfer students with the college application process.

Shiva Parsa, the director of EOP, said the program applied for the grant to address the issue of the African American community being underserved in higher education.

According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center report, Black student college enrollment decreased by 8.3% from 2019 to 2020.

The CSUN profile shows that the percentage of African American students enrolled in fall 2020 at CSUN is 4.6% — a decrease from the 4.7% enrolled in fall 2019.

The project will focus recruiting admissions mentors to help and support students applying to CSUN during the application process, from beginning to end.

College applications can feel like putting together a complicated puzzle for students, who may not know where to start or trying to find the right pieces. By removing some of the challenges faced during the application process, Parsa believes that it will lead to more successful admissions.

The EOP program, which provides various services for historically low-income, first-generation, and educationally-disadvantaged students, serves close to 2,800 students, from first-time freshmen to graduating seniors, as well as foster youth.

With the funds, EOP will recruit, train, and supervise peer admissions mentors who will be working directly with both high school seniors and community college students applying for admission to CSUN.
The mentors will provide assistance with the admissions application process, ensuring that the applicant’s questions are answered in a timely manner, as well as following up with students until an admission decision is received. The goal is a result in a higher admission rate for African American applicants.
The Diversity and Equity Innovation Grant initiative was championed by former CSUN President Dianne F. Harrison. EOP is one of 14 projects that received grant funding that goes toward supporting initiatives that promote diversity, equity and inclusion, and social justice for the CSUN community.

The DEIG initiative launched in August 2020 after the summer of protests following the death of George Floyd. The murder of Floyd, and the social activism that followed, prompted students and faculty to demand Harrison to ensure change for diversity and equity on campus that supports CSUN’s Black communites.

“I have heard from many asking for meaningful changes to ensure that CSUN’s Black communities of students, alumni, faculty and staff are supported and for CSUN to expand our diversity, equity and inclusion efforts,” Harrison said in a August 2020 memo.

The Diversity and Equity Innovation Grant, a collaboration between the President’s Commission on Diversity and Inclusion and the President’s Cabinet, granted awards ranging from $5,000 to $75,000 to 14 various projects.

The purpose of this grant is to incentivize and align the work of individuals, groups and divisions on campus to ensure diversity, equity and inclusion.
According to Chief Diversity Officer Natalie Mason-Kinsey, it was important for CSUN to provide monetary support for initiatives and projects that support those who work in those spaces.
“It was very important to show support not just with words, but with necessary funding to support those on our campus in their endeavors in the area of inclusive excellence,” Kinsey said.

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Mary Beth Walker set aside $400,000 from the Office of Academic Affairs’s Academic Affairs general fund, which includes resources for research, new faculty start-up equipment, travel for faculty and staff, and other opportunities that might arise.

The total amount of money that was distributed to the 14 award recipients totaled to $457,242. The remaining $57,242 was covered by the President’s Office fund.

In order to qualify for the grant, project proposals had to include a description of the project’s plan from start to finish, the overall impact on students and the campus, and a detailed budget outline.

The proposal submission ended on Sept. 30, 2020 and decisions were emailed on Oct. 15, 2020.

According to Kinsey, the President’s Commission is currently preparing to relaunch the grant program for the fall semester, with hopes to make it an annual program.