National statistics show that only 55 percent of students from low-income families go on to college from high school compared to 84 percent among high-income families, with the Los Angeles region mirroring that trend. California State University, Dominguez Hills will work toward shrinking the gap locally thanks to a grant from the United States Department of Education.
CSU Dominguez Hills has been awarded the first year of a nearly $3.6 million, seven-year Department of Education Gaining Early Access Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Program (GEAR UP) grant designed to expand college preparatory resources for students from low-income families. The university is partnering with the Los Angeles Education Partnership (LAEP), and Los Angeles Unified School District’s (LAUSD) Bethune Middle and John C. Fremont Senior High schools on the grant.
Beginning with this year’s seventh grade class at Bethune, CSU Dominguez Hills and LAEP GEAR UP staff will implement a college preparatory program that will follow students as they progress to high school and graduation at Fremont. Each year in the program, the students will receive resources geared to helping them succeed in school and move on to college, such as academic advising, tutoring, summer academic programs, a rigorous secondary curriculum coupled with excellent teaching, workshops on financial literacy, time management and careers, and college campus visits. The GEAR UP team will also be partnering with Southwest College, LAUSD’s Beyond the Bell afterschool program, the Unusual Suspects theater program and Community Coalition, to name a few, to expand on these efforts and assist students in achieving academic success.
The grant supports the efforts to assist one cohort of students from seventh through 12th grade; however, through an examination of yearly outcomes from the grant, Bethune, Fremont and other schools could institute best practices toward increasing college-going rates for all their students, said Sue Borrego, vice president of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs at CSU Dominguez Hills and the principal investigator on the grant.
“One of the primary goals of the grant is to develop and sustain the organizational capacity of middle schools to prepare all students for high school and success in higher education through a systemic network of support for adults who influence middle and high school students, specifically their counselors, faculty, school leaders, and families,” Borrego says. “This expanded organizational capacity is expected to result in a higher portion of students, particularly from backgrounds and communities that historically have not pursued a college education, enrolling and succeeding in college.”