CSU Partners with Churches to Increase African American Enrollment

California State University partnered with 10 African American churches in the San Francisco Bay Area this past weekend for ''Super Sunday,'' an outreach effort to raise the "deplorably low" number of African American students attending its university campuses.

The statewide campaign calls attention to the six percent of students enrolled at CSU's 23 campuses and the need to increase the participation of African Americans as well as Latinos in college. A large part of the effort involves parents and early preparation for college entrance.

At a morning worship service at First Baptist Church in Pittsburg, Calif., the Rev. Gregory Osorio told the story of Joseph, the dreamer.

"Be a dreamer – just dream the right dream," he told the congregation.

"The message to these kids is to dream beyond what you see right now," said Dr. Jacqueline Mimms, associate vice president for enrollment management at Cal State Bakersfield.

Black students comprise the smallest minority group in the state university system with only 23,765 black students out of an undergraduate total of more than 405,000. The campaign is particularly directed to increase the pool of African-American males who only make up 7,200 of the total attendants.

"This is deplorably low, and all of us must be accountable for improving this number," said CSU Chancellor Charles Reed, according to East Bay Business Times. "The churches and the CSU are combining their energies to bring this message to the congregation, parents, students and community leaders."

"Churches have traditionally been the center of the African American community, where one can find strength and hope," Parker Redmond said, according to the Times. "It's also a place where one can frequently find educational preparation programs and where the youth ministers are in daily contact with young people. The churches have traditionally stressed the value and importance of education."

"Super Sunday" was held earlier this year in the Los Angeles area where over 20,000 people were reached in eight churches. CSU outreach directors have provided more information on the application and admission process following each worship service.