CSU Super Sunday: Officials visit churches for fourth year
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SF State's Vice President Leroy Morishita urges congregation to prepare youth for college

At the Third Baptist Church, Pastor Amos C. Brown stressed learning as a precious commodity to the lively congregation during the fourth annual CSU Super Sunday event.

In an effort to promote a "college-going culture" among African-American students, the CSU started Super Sunday as a new way to connect with and inform students and their families on what it takes to get into college.

Starting with a grassroots approach, the CSU's target the churches in order to get into the communities and create partnerships, according to Leroy Morishita, SF State's vice president of administration and finance

In San Francisco, CSU officials visited five churches.

"It's important for our children to be educated so they can come back to the communities and educate us," said Morishita. "We want to commit to provide access to them," he says of the CSU.

In 2005, the first year of the Super Sunday event, a total of 19,842 African-Americans were enrolled as undergraduates in the CSU's. Between 2005 and 2007 African-American enrollment increased by 2,237 according to the official CSU Web site. 2008 enrollment figures have yet to be released.

SF State's overall African- American undergraduate enrollment remains stagnant at six percent, according to the university enrollment data.

Morishita urged the congregation to press the youth to prepare themselves.

"Tell them they have the opportunity," he said. "You should not expect anything less of yourselves and your children to have an opportunity."

Morishita also explained the S.F. Promise program, which guarantees youth a slot at SF State if they work hard during their academic career and invited the congregation to bring their youth and attend SF State's "sneak preview" on April 4. The more exposure they have, the more they feel they will belong there, he said.

SF State's Associated Students Inc. Project Connect was also there to lend a helping hand.

"[We're] here to aid the administration to promote higher education," said Annalyn Arboleda, a business management major. "We want to let others know that there are resources here to aid them."

ASI Project Connect had students at each of the five churches in San Francisco.

Kevan Peabody, a SF State alumnus, believes the program is a great and encouraging one.

"It's a win-win situation for the community," he said. "For their families, for themselves and for the achievement of higher education."

--Amanda Vergel de Dios, staff writer

CSU Chancellor asks community to create better opportunities for children

OAKLAND- Standing behind a large choir dressed in pink gowns and a flat screen TV that read 'Black History Month,' CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed encouraged members of the Center of Hope Community Church to create better opportunities for their children through a college education.

Noting health, economic and child rearing advantages to a loud, "Amen."

Chancellor Reed was among several CSU executives and faculty members visiting churches across California for the fourth annual Super Sunday, an event that will reach over 100,000 African-American families in over 100 churches in the next two weeks.

Super Sunday appears to be working as the amount of African American students attending CSU has increase significantly since its inception.

Last September CSU accepted 3,650 African-American students throughout the state, according to Chancellor Reed. African-American students attending a CSU is the highest number it has ever been at over 30,000 students.

"We are getting double digit increases of students each year and it's because of you," Chancellor Reed said to the congregation.

Super Sunday is the first in a number of steps the CSU fallows to gain access to underprivileged students. In four years, they gained over 70 partnerships with African-American churches around the state.

"This is not just us coming here on a Sunday saying, 'come on down to Cal State,' it's a yearlong engagement," Jorge Haynes, senior director of external affairs for SF State said.

Before the partnerships began, the CSU was looking for a way to change the dynamic of African-American students not attending college, or not qualifying for college because they could not reach requirements, according to Hayes.

"We don't know the magic of how to appeal to all these under represented communities, so we rely on folks from those communities to advise us," he said.

According to Hayes, the partnership involves a number of activities and members.

Chancellor Reed invites church partners to breakfast once a year to exchange ideas. Members of the congregations are also encouraged to talk with CSU mentors, who work as advisers to high school students, and attend campus events to explain what it takes to get into college.

A pamphlet was given to perspective students during Super Sunday showcasing step-by-step instructions on what classes to take.

One problem the CSU faces are high schools around the state failing to offer students the necessary college preparatory classes to get into the system.

"What if they don't offer these elective classes? My daughter goes to the Oakland School of Arts and she just turned around to me and said, 'they don't offer any of these classes," one mother asked Cal State East Bay representative Greg Smith.

Smith encouraged students to speak with counselors. CSU campuses, like California State East Bay, also are offering an Algebra workshop this summer.

The CSU continues to find every option to aid disadvantaged youth. Even with tuition increases and state budget shortfalls, CSU campuses have a third or greater of its students receive financial aid.

"When tuition fees are raised a third of those go right back into financial aid," said Garrett Ashley, vice chancellor for SF State relations and advancement.

"So it is very important for us to have access, to have underprivileged communities be our number one priority," he said.

Amira Bell, 11, was just one of many youth who attended the Super Sunday event and found it useful.

"If you don't think about these things now, you can fail when you get older," she said.

--Taryn Harrington, staff writer

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