|Grant Expands Community
With a recently awarded HUD grant, the
university will expand the area’s community center and
offer free services such as civics classes, leadership training
and English lessons.
December 1, 2005
By Mimi Ko Cruz
A good neighbor to residents of a low-income
area in central Fullerton is what this university aims to
become, said Donald S. Castro, special assistant to President
Milton A. Gordon.
With a recently awarded $599,525 U.S. Department
of Housing and Urban Development grant, the university will
expand, to twice its current size, the area’s community
center and offer free services such as civics classes, leadership
training and English lessons.
The three-year project will involve the Fullerton
Collaborative, a coalition of partners — Cal State Fullerton,
Fullerton College, city of Fullerton, Fullerton School District,
St. Jude Medical Center and Valencia Task Force. Students
and volunteers will make up the majority of the staff providing
services, and Castro will serve as project director.
The expanded center and additional services
are targeted to those residents who live in the Richman Park
neighborhood, an area bordered by Harbor Boulevard, the 91
Freeway and Commonwealth and Woods avenues. According to the
2000 Census, 6,447 people live there and the average median
income is $36,645.
Many of the adult residents are poor, have
little or no formal education, few job skills and speak little
or no English, Castro said.
“The fundamental problem faced by residents
of the central Fullerton area is that there is very limited
space for the provision of services to meet the needs of the
community,” he said. “Many residents lack automobiles
and, therefore, have difficulty in being able to go to off-site
That’s why it’s important to provide
services in the neighborhood, one of the most in need in Orange
County, Castro added.
As part of the project, CSUF will purchase
two 12-foot-by-60-foot modular units that will be attached
to the existing Valencia Community Center in Richman Park.
“The facility expansion will provide
dedicated rooms for computer instruction, teenage use, storage
space for toys and other materials used for the preschool
and after-school programs, one-on-one tutoring and more,”
The expansion and a remodel of the existing
building are expected to be complete by fall 2006.
Then, computer labs will open to Richman Park
area parents, and CSUF and Fullerton College students will
conduct technology workshops in Spanish and English to teach
how to use the Internet to obtain college and university eligibility,
admissions and financial aid information.
‘The project demonstrates Cal State Fullerton’s
commitment to serving its community and being a good neighbor.’
Other services planned include:
The formation of a parent group called Padres Promotores de
la Educacion (Parent Advocates for Education). Members will
be parents of junior high and high school students who will
be trained to communicate information about the school system,
requirements for graduation and retention, and higher education
options to their peers through home visits, informal neighborhood
presentations and church or block association meetings.
A CreditSmart program, which will be geared
at helping potential homeowners learn to manage their money,
including how to establish and maintain credit and plan for
Vocational and career training workshops that
will help residents develop programs related to safe neighborhoods,
such as a junior cadet-type program. The workshops also will
help residents learn about landscape design by participating
in the creation and maintenance of a community garden; how
to design publicity campaigns and promote a positive community
image; and how to set up business systems and develop technology
skills. English-as-a-second-language classes also will be
Civic education classes devoted to what it
means to be an American citizen will be conducted. The curriculum
will include an overview of American history, customs and
culture, as well as prepare interested pupils on what it takes
to become a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
At the same time Cal State Fullerton will be
adding to and remodeling the Valencia Community Center, St.
Jude Medical Center will build a 5,000-square-foot clinic
next to it and provide staff to offer medical and social services,
such as prenatal, pediatric and urgent care, chronic disease
management, health education and mental health counseling.
The clinic will be open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through
Friday and services will be free.
The clinic will serve as a venue for the university’s
obesity program and other wellness programs, which are sponsored
by the departments of nursing and kinesiology, Castro added.
The main purpose of the project, he said, is
to empower Richman Park’s residents.
“This is a community in need, a community
that is not receiving the kinds of services it needs, and
this project will help citizens in central Fullerton become
more self-sufficient, financially sound, English proficient,
technologically adept and develop skills in a variety of areas
and take advantage of educational opportunities,” he
said. “The project demonstrates Cal State Fullerton’s
commitment to serving its community and being a good neighbor.”
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