Verizon Gift: $50,000 Benefits Outreach and EOP
On Nov. 3, Verizon presented a check for $50,000 to the Evening at Dominguez program conducted by the office of Outreach and Information Services and the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) at California State University, Dominguez Hills. The programs, which are tailored toward the needs of first-generation college students and their parents, provide recruitment and information to students interested in the university and academic support and mentoring once they enroll.
Gayle Ball-Parker, director of University Outreach, says that the Evening with Dominguez events, which are held throughout the communities that CSUDH serves, is unique in that it brings the institution to potential students and their families, who may not be familiar with the ins and outs of navigating higher education. Information is provided about EOP, housing and other available support services. University deans and administrators are present to advise and assist in the admission process, which is done on-site that evening. Ball-Parker says that the Verizon gift will assist in providing the resources needed to hold the recruitment even, including publicity, computer access, language interpreters and staffing.
“A lot of our students are first-generation, so having their parents there and going to them says a lot,” she says. “Sometimes parents are intimidated by the whole idea of higher education. But by coming to them, it’s like we’re extending an olive branch saying, ‘We’re going to come to where you live and tell you about Dominguez, so when you come to us, you know us and you’re more comfortable.’”
The Verizon gift will also support EOP’s BEST (Building Essential Skills and Talents) Academy/Summer Bridge program, a six-week preparatory course for incoming freshmen who need to supplement basic math and English skills. William Franklin, EOP director, says that the biggest challenges facing EOP are high school graduates who enter college underprepared.
“Students come in needing more, having gotten less in high school,” he says. We can try to fix K-12, or we can recognize the students that we’re getting and then have innovative programs and services to meet their needs.”
Franklin says that “intrusive” measures such as the BEST Academy/Summer Bridge and personal follow-up counseling and mentoring throughout the school year are EOP’s formula for successful retention and matriculation.
“Since many of [the students] are the first in their families to attend college, they don’t necessarily know all the capital that’s needed in order to be a success,” he says. “All the studies show that students who are retained after the first year, their chances of making it to graduation increase exponentially. We try to provide that support.”
Mike Murray, director of government and external affairs for Verizon, says that outreach to students is critical, especially for those who are the first in their families to attend a university. He recalls his time at Santa Monica Community College as critical to his success in pursuing a university degree and says that Verizon was impressed by CSUDH’s efforts in assisting its students.
“Essentially, it was the quality of the program and [CSU Dominguez Hills] as well,” he says. “Going to a four-year school, some students might need assistance even more than those going to a community college. I love the idea of the BEST Academy where they focus on math and English and help students acclimatize to a university, which might be like going to a foreign country to some. I know it was for me.”
Franklin expresses his gratitude for Verizon’s donation, saying that “access without support is not opportunity.”
“Verizon’s generous contribution gives us the opportunity to expand our programs and services, to intensify our connection with the students and to ensure that we have real data-based solutions going forward,” he says. “It gives us a real opportunity to evaluate what we do on a greater level and do more so that students can not only make it through their first year, but matriculate and succeed and then graduate.”
For more information on Outreach and Information Services, click here.
For more information on EOP and the BEST Academy/Summer Bridge program,
- Joanie Harmon
Photo above: Freshmen from the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) and CSUDH president Mildred García welcome Mike Murray, director of government and external affairs for Verizon, and receive the corporation's gift of $50,000 to benefit EOP and University Outreach and Information Services.
L-R: David Cortes, criminal justice; Pedro Reynoso, business administration; Grace Bibbs, nursing; García; Murray; Myrian Nozil, occupational therapy; Resa Onunkwo, psychology; Awele Decency, psychology and Chesselle Summers, digital media arts
Photo by GK