Diverse group of students celebrating at CSUCI CommencementNov. 9, 2022 — CSU Channel Islands (CSUCI) is one of 17 CSU campuses tapped to receive California State University HSI Community Grants, part of a CSU-wide initiative of the Global HSI (Hispanic-Serving Institution) Equity Innovation Hub (EIH).  

CSUCI’s “Channel Your Potential” initiative received $136,989 and a new program called “Serving Black Students” was awarded $64,460.  

The CSUCI grants were a portion of the more than $2 million awarded to the 17 CSU campuses. The grants will support CSU programs that inspire the next generation of creators and innovators to pursue high-demand careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) and the creative and tech industries.  

Each of the 17 grant recipients will receive between $64,000 to $150,000 for their respective projects and initiatives, with work that was scheduled to begin on Nov. 1. 

Assistant Vice President for Student Academic Success & Equity Initiatives Michelle Hasendonckx, Ed.D., spearheaded the grant for “Channel Your Potential,” and Special Assistant to the Vice President for Student Affairs  Doreen Hatcher, Ed.D. wrote the grant for “Serving Black Students.” 

Plans for the Channel Your Potential first-generation career preparation initiative are underway with three programs designed to prepare students for post-graduation careers in STEM, creative, and tech industries. 

Hasendonckx explained that the Channel Your Potential career preparation initiative is the next logical step in CSUCI’s successful peer mentorship program, in which first generation students—often Hispanic students or students of color—mentor other students who are also the first in their families to attend college. The peer mentors help the new students navigate the college experience so they build a sense of belonging, mastery and confidence. 

This new project will help give students that same sense of mastery and confidence as they transition from college to the workforce, giving them information about career exploration, bolster career readiness skills such as critical thinking, communication and problem solving. It will also help them realize that they bring a wealth of cultural experience to help shape the diverse workforce of the future.  

“We are preparing them for careers that do not exist yet,” Hasendonckx explained. “That is the promise of higher education.” 

Hasendonckx has three projects in the works: 1) Peer-led First-Generation Coaching; 2) First Generation Professional Podcast series; and 3) HSI Culturally Responsive Events.  

Just like peer mentoring for the college experience, CSUCI alumni would mentor students for the professional world.   

“Peer mentorship is one of our hallmarks,” Hasendonckx said. “These students will also be the ones responsible for creating workshops to help their peers entering the workforce. They will be mentored by faculty, and they know better than anyone what they need in these workshops.” 

Hasendonckx is also planning more expansive celebrations of First-Gen Week, which is in November; Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) Week, which is in October; and a First-Generation student Networking Social.  

Students who are the first in their families to attend college will also put together podcasts about first-generation professionals in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math); creative arts, technology and other fields to be aired on the student radio station, Dolphin radio. 

“The students are going to learn the technology requirements, interviewing skills—how to go out in the community and talk to people—and they’ll share stories of professionals out in the field doing amazing things,” Hasendonckx said.  

Hatcher is also planning to have Black students develop podcasts with the “Serving Black Students” initiative, to give Black students an opportunity to discuss what is important to them. 

Serving Black students is different than serving Hispanic students, she said, as most Black students are not local, but from the Los Angeles area, and most are not the first in their family to attend college, so recruiting and retaining Black students requires a different set of strategies. 

“We’re going to look at how many Black students we have on campus and why they’re here,” Hatcher said. “What’s their experience while they’re here? What services can we provide them?” 

Hatcher hopes to create a literal space for Black students to gather for movie night or talking circles. She hopes to go a step beyond anti-racism and anti-bias training and offer training on cultural competence for students, faculty and staff when they interact with Black students. 

The awarding of the CSU HSI Community Grants is just the beginning. It is the first of three initiatives that will launch as part of EIH. The Global HSI Equity Innovation Hub is based out of CSU Northridge (CSUN), and is a public-private partnership with Apple, which provided a $25 million investment as part of Apple’s Racial Equity and Justice Initiative (REJI).  

“Through our partnership with CSUN to launch the Global HSI Equity Innovation Hub, we’re committed to providing transformative learning and career opportunities to students at Hispanic-Serving Institutions across the country,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple's vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives. “With these grants, we’re thrilled to support the next generation of leaders, entrepreneurs, and creators.” 

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