Project GRAD Los Angeles, a San Fernando Valley-based non-profit organization that created educational opportunities for 60,000 students over more than two decades, chose CSUN as one of the final beneficiaries of its service to the community.

The organization, which closed its doors in the summer of 2020, gave CSUN a $146,000 donation for the creation and support of the Project GRAD LA First Generation Scholarship Endowment. The donation is also part of the Matador Hearts for Matador Minds scholarship campaign, spearheaded by the CSUN Alumni Association volunteer leadership.

The Project GRAD LA First Generation Scholarship Endowment will provide annual awards for enrolled CSUN students who are the first in their immediate family to attend a four-year university. Students who have graduated from Arleta High School, Cesar Chavez Learning Academies, San Fernando High School and Sylmar Charter High School in the Northeast San Fernando Valley are eligible for the award.

“A CSUN education transforms the lives of students and lifts families and communities at the same time,” said CSUN President Erika D. Beck. “This academic year we are proud to serve nearly 40,000 students, 70 percent of whom are the first in their families to attend college. Earning a college degree at CSUN produces a ripple effect that spans future generations. Project GRAD Los Angeles’ generous support for students in the San Fernando Valley has been a gift that will live on. We are grateful that CSUN was chosen as a vehicle to make an even greater impact on deserving students and to honor the legacy of this life-changing institution.”

Project GRAD Los Angeles, launched in 1999, was a college-readiness program designed to increase rates of college admission, retention and graduation for historically underserved communities. The organization worked to address the inequities in under-resourced schools in the Northeast San Fernando Valley.

“Project GRAD Los Angeles has supported thousands of students to pursue their life dreams with higher education. The support for the Matador Hearts for Matador Minds campaign continues Project GRAD Los Angeles’ support for students to pursue their dreams of educational and life success,” said Project GRAD LA President and Chief Executive Officer Ford Roosevelt.

The organization provided advising and college experiences to thousands of high school students, which resulted in college acceptances nearly three times the national average for similar students across the country. This contributed to more than 3,000 students applying to and attending CSUN during the last 20 years.

After 21 years of serving students in the Northeast San Fernando Valley, Project GRAD Los Angeles closed its doors on August 21, 2020. To continue its mission of supporting first-generation students attending and completing college, its board of directors pledged a portion of their organizational funds to endow first-generation student scholarships to champion their work in perpetuity on the campus of CSUN.

“Project GRAD LA and the dedicated civic leaders behind it, like Board Chair Martha Diaz-Aszkenazy and President and CEO Ford Roosevelt, have been changing Valley lives for decades,” said CSUN Vice President for University Relations and Advancement and President of the CSUN Foundation Robert D. Gunsalus. “They get it, and CSUN gets it; job one is lifting our neighbors, and by doing so, we elevate the Valley, Los Angeles and beyond. We are honored to carry on their good work through this generous scholarship endowment.”

The CSUN Alumni Association grants scholarships to deserving students annually, opening the door to opportunity.

“For over 20 years, Project GRAD Los Angeles has provided the resources for first-generation students and their families to explore and prepare for going to college,” said CSUN Alumni Association Board President Dan Chernow ’67 (History), M.A. ’89 (Foundations of Education), M.A. ’03 (History). “Thousands of those students have gone on to attend CSUN. With Project GRAD Los Angeles coming to an end, the board, under Ford Roosevelt, has contributed funding to endow scholarships at CSUN as its legacy for students from the Northeast San Fernando Valley. The Alumni Board is very grateful for this generous gift.”

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