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Orange County United Way Awards $100,000 Grant To Cal State Fullerton

Funds to support college preparatory programs for at-risk middle and high school students participating in United Way’s successful Destination Graduation program

IRVINE, CA – Orange County United Way announced today that it has awarded a $100,000 grant to California State University, Fullerton to provide College Exposure programming for middle and high school students participating in United Way’s Destination Graduation program.

Destination Graduation is a unique countywide partnership that provides at-risk students (many of whom will be the first in their family to go to college) and their teachers with an enhanced academic program. United Way’s Destination Graduation program currently provides teacher training, tutoring, career exploration opportunities, field trips, on-site career mobile units, parental engagement training and exposure to local Orange County corporations at targeted school districts in partnership with Road Trip Nation, Vital Link and the Discovery Cube.

This new partnership with Cal State Fullerton provides Destination Graduation middle school students with additional college and career bound opportunities to visit Cal State Fullerton and envision a future for themselves in college. Destination Graduation high school students, meanwhile, can take tours of the Cal State Fullerton campus while participating in academic and college planning sessions, including financial aid planning.

“We’re excited about this latest partnership with Cal State Fullerton,” announced Max Gardner, President and CEO of Orange County United Way. “The university has long shared our passion for unlocking the potential of middle and high school students in Orange County and preparing them to become the leaders of tomorrow.”

Cal State Fullerton’s President, Dr. Mildred García, serves on the Orange County United Way Board and has supported Destination Graduation since its inception more than four years ago. García believes the new partnership is a natural “next step” to seeing the program’s students enter college, graduate and become successful in life.

“One of the many challenges facing first-generation college students is understanding everything that goes into the process,” explained Dr. García. “From registration and financial aid to study habits, academics, and campus life, this program will greatly help prepare and acclimate students for success.”

Cal State Fullerton and United Way will co-design the program to meet the unique needs of 20 participating local schools.

At certain Destination Graduation schools student will participate in Experience Cal State Fullerton College Exposure Programs. Students will have the opportunity to visit the university and envision themselves as a college student. Sample events include:

  • Kids to College: Introduces students to higher education, STEM majors through hands-on lessons, college life via a student panel and activities that expose students to higher education.
  • Titan Days: College exposure days engage students in the college admissions process and requirements, the financial impact of a college education and goal setting.

At selected Destination Graduation schools, students and their parents will receive information and resources on how to navigate the college application and financial aid process. Programming will include:

  • Student Workshops focusing on Academic Planning, College Options, Researching Colleges and Universities, Financial Aid and Applying for Scholarships.
  • Parent Workshops covering College admissions requirements, “How to Support my Child,” financial aid and “How to Pay for College.”

All programs will be offered to parents in English, Spanish and Vietnamese both at the students’ high school campuses and through tours of the Cal State Fullerton campus.

Schools participating in the Destination Graduation program that can look forward to the Cal State Fullerton college preparatory program include, by district:


  • Century High School
  • Godinez Fundamental High School
  • Middle College High School
  • Segerstrom High School
  • Carr Intermediate School
  • McFadden Intermediate School
  • Mendez Fundamental Intermediate School
  • Spurgeon Intermediate School


  • Anaheim High School
  • Katella High School
  • Savanna High School
  • South Junior High School
  • Brookhurst Junior School


  • Johnson Middle School


  • Los Amigos High School
  • Santiago High School
  • Doig Intermediate School
  • Fitz Intermediate School


  • Huntington Beach High School
  • Westminster High School

The Destination Graduation program addresses one of the transition points in improving academic success, as identified in Orange County United Way’s FACE 2024 ten-year community-wide action plan. The FACE 2024 Education goal is to cut Orange County’s high school dropout rate in half. Setting the sights of those most at risk on a successful life after high school will play a vital role in reaching this goal.

Those interested in learning more about United Way, the Destination Graduation program or the partnership with Cal State Fullerton are invited to visit the Orange County United Way website.


Michael Suydam
21Strat 949.981.5008, mike@21strat.com

Katherine Ransom, Vice President, Marketing and Communications
Orange County United Way 949.263.6176, katheriner@unitedwayoc.org

Since 1924, Orange County United Way has been working to improve lives and strengthen our community by mobilizing the caring power of Orange County and focusing on the building blocks for a good quality of life: Education, Income, Health and Housing. By investing in Orange County children, families and individuals, we help them create pathways to self-sufficient lives. In short, we help people help themselves. Through our 10-year community-wide action plan, “FACE 2024” (an acronym for Fund, Advocate, Collaborate, Educate), we collaborate with local businesses, community organizations, governmental agencies and individuals to make a long-term measurable difference in the lives of local individuals and families. To learn more or to join our movement, visit www.unitedwayoc.org.

Cal State Fullerton, a leading institution of the 23-campus California State University system, enrolls more than 38,000 students and offers 109 degree programs. An intellectual and cultural center for Orange County, Cal State Fullerton is a primary driver of workforce and economic development throughout the region and a national model for supporting student success through innovative high-impact educational and co-curricular experiences, including faculty-student collaborative research. The university embraces its rich diversity, recognizing that it both enhances the educational experience for students and uniquely prepares them to excel as emergent leaders in the global marketplace and in their communities. Cal State Fullerton is recognized as a top public university in the West, in particular for its work in supporting underrepresented students in earning a college degree.

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