The three-year grant will allow Cal State LA to establish the Acceleration Initiative, which will prepare students from groups who are underrepresented to succeed in STEM. The goal is to produce more diverse STEM graduates who are prepared for the workforce and ready to contribute locally and globally.
“This generous grant from the Weingart Foundation for the Acceleration Initiative will allow the college to provide the best possible first-year experience program for our students, strengthening students’ commitment to excellence, engagement with their community, and accelerating their academic success and career prospects,” said Emily Allen, the grant’s principal investigator and the dean for the College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology (ECST) at Cal State LA.
Through the Weingart grant, Cal State LA will hire a director who will integrate the university’s already existing STEM programs for middle school, high school and first-year college students. The university will also leverage the funding to expand and improve the programs, and to attract individual donors and private funders.
The Acceleration Initiative will bring together four programs: MESA (Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement), LAunchPad, STEP (Summer Transition to ECST Program) and FYrE@ECST (First-Year Experience at ECST).
- The MESA Schools Program provides rigorous math, engineering and science academic support to middle and high school students from educationally disadvantaged schools.
- LAunchPad is a two-week summer program that introduces high school girls who have finished their junior year to the fields of engineering and computing through hands-on projects. The aim is to increase female enrollment to 25 percent by 2025.
- STEP is a seven-week summer math boot camp that prepares incoming ECST freshmen to complete their first-year academic requirements. The program also integrates students into college life.
- FYrE@ECST is a first-year cohort program that provides students with skills and support for ongoing success in their ECST majors. Approximately 90 percent of students who participate in FYrE@ECST will continue to pursue a degree in STEM.
Research has shown that ECST students engaged in these programs are more likely to pursue STEM majors, complete challenging courses, engage in projects with peers and graduate on time from Cal State LA with a STEM degree, said Allen.
The grant will “strengthen our K-12 pipeline programs and provide the means to recruit and graduate more women in engineering, technology and computer science fields,” she added.
The Weingart Foundation works to advance fairness, inclusion and opportunity for all Southern Californians, especially those communities hit hardest by persistent poverty. Cal State LA is committed to engagement, service, and the public good and is ranked number one in the nation for the upward mobility of its students.
“Cal State LA transforms lives—of students, their families, and our community—we appreciate the commitment of the Weingart Foundation to help us in this work,” Allen said.
Photo: High school students competing in a robotics competition as part of Cal State LA’s LAunchPad, a two-week hands-on program that aims to encourage young women to pursue careers in STEM. (Credit: J. Emilio Flores/Cal State LA)
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California State University, Los Angeles is the premier comprehensive public university in the heart of Los Angeles. Cal State LA is ranked number one in the United States for the upward mobility of its students. Cal State LA is dedicated to engagement, service, and the public good, offering nationally recognized programs in science, the arts, business, criminal justice, engineering, nursing, education, and the humanities. Founded in 1947, the University serves more than 28,000 students and has more than 245,000 distinguished alumni.
Cal State LA is home to the critically-acclaimed Luckman Fine Arts Complex, Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs, Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center, Hydrogen Research and Fueling Facility, Billie Jean King Sports Complex and the TV, Film and Media Center. For more information, visit www.CalStateLA.edu.
Founded in 1951 by Ben and Stella Weingart, the Weingart Foundation is a private, nonprofit grantmaking foundation supporting nonprofit organizations across six Southern California counties including Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, Santa Barbara, San Bernardino, and Ventura. Over the past 50 years, the Foundation has granted more than $950 million to support a variety of organizations addressing human service, health and educational needs. With assets over $750 million, the Foundation is proud to serve Southern California. For more information, visit https://weingartfnd.org.