Cal State Dominguez Hills' Welch Hall

Cal State Dominguez Hills' Welch Hall

California State University, Dominguez Hills has received a $4.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to increase the number of low-income students in the Compton Unified School District in a program to help preparing them for college, the university announced Oct. 12.

The seven-year “GEAR UP” grant from the Department of Education will enable Cal State Dominguez Hills faculty and staff to work with the Compton Unified School District to create academic development programs and activities for select underserved students starting in the 7th grade and continuing through their graduation from high school. The grant will also provide college scholarships for low-income students.

“We know the impact a college education can have on gifted and at-promise students, most notably first-generation students in Compton,” William Franklin, vice president for Student Affairs at Cal State Dominguez Hills, said in a statement. “This GEAR UP grant will allow us to begin working with students in middle school and we will follow the cohort to their first year in college. That’s a game changer!”

GEAR UP is a grant program that supports states and partnerships by providing funding for programs and services that better prepare students from high-poverty middle and high schools to succeed in postsecondary education.

As part of the program, Cal State Dominguez Hills and its partners – Compton College, the Whittier-based Parent Engagement Academy, youth speaking and coaching company CoolSpeak and Smart Study Tutors, a Westlake Village college testing preparation firm – have committed $4.8 million of in-kind funding to provide staff, supplies, materials, facilities, and mentoring and counseling in the Compton Unified School District.

Cal State Dominguez Hills will primarily be focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics learning opportunities for the Compton Unified students. There will also be courses in personal financial literacy – including higher education loans – and economics.

“We are beyond thrilled about the opportunity to partner with Compton Unified School District, Compton College, and local community-based organizations to enhance the academic experiences of students in our local service area,” Matt Smith, dean of students at Cal State Dominguez Hills, said in a statement. “This is a unique opportunity to provide a transformative experience for students, families and the community.”

Economy, education, energy and transportation reporter Howard Fine can be reached at hfine@labusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @howardafine.