The Educational Information Services (EIS)/Talent Search Program at CSULB has been selected to receive two awards totaling $703,426 from the U.S. Department of Education to continue its educational opportunity outreach efforts with students in local middle schools and high schools.
Talent Search programs across the country identify and assist individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds who have the potential to succeed in higher education. These programs provide academic, career and financial counseling to participants and encourage them to graduate from high school and continue on to the post-secondary institution of their choice.
“The mission of the EIS/Talent Search Program is to service low-income, first-generation students who want to go on to higher education,” explained Loretta Enriquez-Najera, director of EIS/Talent Search at CSULB. “That’s any level of higher education after high school, whether it would be going to community college, a four-year public or private school, possibly even a trade school. Without this funding, we would not be able to put our student advisors into these local schools. We have 23 sites that we provide services to, and if we didn’t get this money, this program would shut down.”
The first CSULB award of $483,426 is earmarked for the campus’ original Talent Search Program, which was established in 1977. Working with 1,950 students annually, the program serves 13 area high schools and three middle schools.
The second award of $220,000 will go to the university’s other program, EIS/Talent Search South Bay, which was created in 2002. The South Bay program serves 600 students annually, working with five local high schools and a pair of middle schools.
The student activities vary from grade to grade, according to Enriquez-Najera, but by the time the students become high school seniors, they have the most immediate needs as EIS/Talent Search workers prepare them for the next level.
“Beginning this fall, we’re working with 12th graders to make sure they take the right college entrance exams,” Enriquez-Najera explained. “The application period arrives around October, so we help them with college applications when applying to schools. Then in January and February, we are consumed with financial aid because most of our participants are low-income students. Our goal is to have all the seniors apply for financial aid, and actually, that is one of the mandates of our program.”