Seven years ago the California State University decided to make an effort to attract more African-American students. And now it has paid off, reports The Los Angeles Times. “About 17,663 African American students applied for fall 2013, up from 16, 588 in 2012 — a 6% gain,” writes the paper. According to school officials, African American applicants have risen steadily over the last 10 years, in part due to an outreach initiative dubbed Super Sunday.
Super Sunday, which started in 2006, includes campus presidents and top university officials speaking to African American church congregations. During these visits, officials give out guides listing classes that students should take beginning in the sixth grade to qualify for Cal State. The school even offers mentoring help and tips for applying for financial aid. This year there are visits planned to more than 100 predominantly black churches in Northern, Central and Southern California, which is estimated to reach more than 100,000 churchgoers.
“One of the key things is trying to get students prepared for college, but also the idea is to have students and people who influence students like parents and grandparents join together in a voice that says you can go to college, that is a goal you can reach,” Cal State spokesman Erik Fallis told the Times.
Not only is it paying off for the Cal State system, but for the students as well. Since the launch of Super Sunday, the number of degrees awarded to African Americans has increased by 30 percent. “African American and other underrepresented students still suffer a significant gap in graduation rates, however,” notes the newspaper.
Cal State embarked on this effort because given the “demographic shifts in California, colleges have to work harder to attract African American, Latino and other underrepresented students, especially to such fields as math, engineering, science and technology,” said Cal State L.A. President James M. Rosser, to the Times.
Cal State has also launched similar outreach programs for Latino, Asian and Native American students, veterans, and foster youths.
Super Sunday sounds like an initiative perhaps the HBCUs might want to try.