Verizon Donates $50,000 to CSU Dominguez Hills to Support First-Generation College Students

California State University, Dominguez Hills receives grant from Verizon to expand two programs aimed at recruiting and retaining first-generation college students.
Nov. 7, 2008 - PRLog -- Evening at Dominguez and BEST Academy/Summer Bridge, two programs at California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) that support first-generation college students, recently received $50,000 from the Verizon Foundation.

Evening at Dominguez provides recruitment and information to students interested in the university, while BEST (Building Essential Skills and Talents) Academy/Summer Bridge offers academic support and mentoring once they enroll. The Verizon Foundation grant will allow for the expansion of these programs.

Gayle Ball-Parker, director of Outreach and Information Services, which organizes Evening at Dominguez events throughout the community each semester, said the program is unique in that it brings the university to potential students who may not be familiar with the ins and outs of higher education. The Verizon gift will assist in providing the resources needed to hold these recruitment events, including publicity, computer access, language interpreters and staffing.

“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,’” Ball-Parker said.

BEST Academy/Summer Bridge program, administered by the university’s Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) office, is a six-week preparatory course for incoming freshmen who need to supplement basic math and English skills. William Franklin, EOP director, said one of the biggest challenges facing EOP are high school graduates who enter college under-prepared, and that measures such as the BEST Academy/Summer Bridge and personal follow-up counseling and mentoring throughout the school year are key to EOP’s formula for successful retention and matriculation.

“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,” Franklin said.

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 said 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.”

“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,” Franklin said in expressing his gratitude for Verizon’s donation. “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, visit

For more information on EOP and the BEST Academy/Summer Bridge program, visit

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CSU Dominguez Hills is a highly diverse, urban university located in the South Bay, primarily serving the Los Angeles metropolitan area. The university prides itself on its outstanding faculty and friendly, student-centered environment. Known for excellence in teacher education, nursing, psychology, business administration, and digital media arts, new degree programs include computer science, criminal justice, recreation and leisure studies, social work, and communication disorders. On campus is The Home Depot Center, a multi-purpose sports complex that hosts world-class soccer, tennis, track and field, lacrosse, and cycling. For more information, visit
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