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Bank of America’s gift to CSUF will support women pursuing STEM degrees – OCRegister

As the university’s first-ever comprehensive philanthropic effort, Cal State Fullerton’s “It Takes a Titan” campaign aims to invest in projects that “enhance academic innovation, empower students, transform campus structures and enrich the community.”
One recent commitment to CSUF’s campaign that aligns with these goals and will make a marked difference for women seeking careers in the STEM field is Bank of America’s gift of $325,000 designated for the Women in Computer Science and Engineering program within the College of Engineering and Computer Science.
The mission of the WiCSE program is to support female freshmen and new transfer students in their pursuit of engineering and computer science degrees by providing opportunities such as industry professionals events, site visits to local companies and academic support.
Bank of America’s longtime partnership with CSUF, along with its own philanthropic priorities of focusing on initiatives that advance racial equality and economic opportunity, led them to select the WiCSE program. Approximately 70% of the program’s members are women from communities of color.
“They (CSUF) educate a lot of our future leaders and those who work in Orange County, including some of our own employees, and in looking at ways we can continue to engage with them, the WiCSE program is a terrific fit,” said Allen Staff, Bank of America president — Orange County. “What better way for us to connect our philanthropic efforts with the university and have a generational impact?”
Additionally, Bank of America’s gift was eligible for matching funds made available to donors through the $40 million gift from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott and her husband Dan Jewett, given to CSUF last summer. This match will increase the total gift amount to $500,000.
As a result, WiCSE at CSUF will become permanently endowed, a factor that played a large role in Bank of America’s selection of this particular program. The funds will provide for the expansion of the program from two years to four years, allowing for the full inclusion of students transferring to CSUF from community colleges.
“It’s a better way for us to leverage our dollars, too, when you can leverage some other good work that’s going on out there in the community,” said Shari Battle, Bank of America senior vice president and market executive — Orange County.
WiCSE already boasts a retention rate of 92% and with this significant gift, the program expects to triple the number of students it serves, providing tangible ways for CSUF to bridge gaps and remove barriers as these students pursue their STEM-based educational and career goals.
“Not only does the gift itself keep on giving, but the wonderful graduates that come out of the program continue to be productive members of society, and they keep giving,” Staff said. “That’s a chance for us to have a sense of pride for us and our community in what we’re doing.”
With more than 300,000 alumni, 80% of whom live within 50 miles of campus, Cal State Fullerton’s “It Takes a Titan” campaign is truly an investment in the community.
Five years after its 2017 start, the campaign has seen so much success that the financial goal has been increased — not once, but twice — from $175 million to $200 million, and then again to $250 million with the receipt of a $40 million gift last summer from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. Fundraising for the revised goal currently sits at 93% complete.
The approach to the initiative is donor-centric, meaning that gifts of any size are directed for use solely by the donors’ interests and passions.
“We want to make sure that with donors coming to us wanting to make the world a better place, we’re able to help them accomplish those goals,” said Greg Saks, CSUF vice president of university advancement and executive director of the Cal State Fullerton Philanthropic Foundation.
Recent gifts of nearly $7 million since the summer include a $1 million endowment for the College of the Arts, $1 million for STEM scholarships and more than $1 million toward the student-run Titan Capital Management Program. This same time period saw a 191% increase in philanthropic commitments, a 152% increase in endowments and a 78% increase in endowed scholarships.
The next focused day of giving for “It Takes a Titan” will occur in March, and when the campaign is scheduled to close at the end of 2022, this broad-based community effort will see more than 120,000 people investing in future business and civic leaders who will likely serve right here in their local community.
“I think that’s really a testament to the amazing investors,” Saks said. “They are investing in Cal State Fullerton, investing in our students and understanding the difference we make in Orange County.”
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