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FRESNO — California State University, Fresno was one of eight universities nationwide awarded a grant by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities and Coalition of Urban Serving Universities to support student success through community partnerships. The $50,000 award will support expanding a partnership between the University, Fresno Unified School District and the State Center Community College District to build student success in mathematics along the educational pipeline.

The grants, known as collaborative opportunity grants, are supported with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and will support the eight universities’ efforts to leverage community partnerships to improve students’ access to, success in and completion of college.

“The end goal of this work is to help students to succeed in university math classrooms and become good consumers of the mathematics they learn,” said Dr. Rajee Amarasinghe, chair of the Department of Mathematics. “We are exploring new ways by disrupting silos to connect high school, community college and university math professionals to pool their skills to create high impact math classrooms.”

Fresno State’s work – in its second year – will bring together high school, community college and university math faculty to align and improve math teaching. Findings in year one showed promise. The failure rate for participating underrepresented minority students was less than half what it was for students with similar characteristics who did not enroll in the enhanced sections of an entry-level math course.

“The institutions being awarded grants are working to tackle the obstacles facing students with innovative and dynamic new approaches,” said Shari Garmise, vice president of APLU’s Office of Urban Initiatives. “As these institutions have shown, tackling challenges is often most effectively done through partnerships with other community stakeholders that bring added resources and insights. And we’re finding that substantial student success gains can be achieved through that collaboration.”

Following an executive order issued by the California State University System’s Chancellor in 2017 that ended remedial math offerings effective this fall, faculty are co-writing course materials for the entry-level math course that includes a new lab for students needing targeted support to succeed in mathematics.

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