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Donors to CSUF’s philanthropic campaign find diverse ways to enrich the university

For donors supporting Cal State Fullerton’s “It Takes a Titan” campaign, their motivations are as diverse as the programs funded by the campaign, along with the lives of the students who benefit.

The seven-year “It Takes a Titan” initiative (which went public two years ago) is the university’s first-ever philanthropic campaign, designed to prioritize investment in projects that “enhance academic innovation, empower students, transform campus structures and enrich the community.”

Donors can channel funding toward a wide variety of university upgrades in areas of academics, athletics, infrastructure and community outreach.

After five years, the campaign has already reached its fundraising goal of $250 million.

“We’re celebrating, but we are also trying to remind people that we are not done yet,” said Greg Saks, vice president of University Advancement and executive director of CSUF’s Philanthropic Foundation. “The dollars are certainly very important, but the larger goal for this effort is to create a culture of philanthropy on our campus and be able to make sure all stakeholders really understand how investment-worthy Cal State Fullerton is.”

An endowment gifted by Donnie Crevier, former owner of a Santa Ana car dealership, Crevier BMW, provides funding for the university’s “I Am First Program,” a cohort-driven program designed to develop leadership and career skills for first-generation students – those students who are the first in their families to attend college.

Crevier, who has supported several CSUF programs over the years, is motivated by the university’s leadership.

Crevier is chairman of the board of High School Inc., a Santa Ana nonprofit that provides a variety of services to Santa Ana high school students who otherwise might not have the chance to attend college or achieve career success.

“I am involved in a couple of other programs related to that group, and we are just trying to do our best to get these kids educated and be productive and happy in their lives, and I think this program (I Am First) is a great step in that direction,” Crevier said. “Kids from that culture are very, very important to me.”

Financial planner and CSUF alum John Nguyen provides financial and in-kind support for a campus Financial Literacy program.

Nguyen has made a personal donation of $200,000, which was combined with a matching grant of $100,000 to fund the program.

Through a series of workshops, Nguyen’s program teaches students how to manage their finances and plan for the future by learning about health insurance, credit card debt, retirement plans, investing and other financial tools, while avoiding financial traps which could lead to insurmountable debt.

Nguyen is impressed by CSUF’s relationship with the community.

“They are very community-centered,” said Nguyen, on his reason for funding the program. “My thing is to empower every college student so when they graduate, they understand personal finance. To get them to learn these little bits and so by the time they finish their four years, they are confident, they understand the bigger picture.”

Because of a campus organization, “Women in Computer Science and Engineering,” or WiSCE, Cal State Fullerton’s female students are receiving academic and career support to help them enter careers in Science Technology Engineering and Math.

The WiSCE program thrives mainly because of a $325,000 Bank of America grant, along with donations from other companies and individuals, adding up to a $500,000 endowment. The endowment expands the program from two to four years, and triples the number of students served.

CSUF senior Sirena Salas, a WiSCE member for two years, credits her academic success to the program.

Salas has just completed an internship in her chosen field of cybersecurity and is about to start a second internship in the field.

“The types of learning opportunities that I’ve gotten through the program span a wide array of projects,” Salas said. “It’s been a very powerful journey for me.”

Along with reaching its financial goals, It Takes a Titan has also exceeded a series of auxiliary goals, Saks said.

The goal of reaching 36,000 alumni donors over the life of the campaign was exceeded by 4,000 and the target number of 120,000 individual gifts has been surpassed by 20,000 Saks said.

“Part of that process is having these auxiliary goals, so we get to celebrate folks who give $1 million and folks who give 50 bucks,” Saks said. “But really, to make sure that everybody is able to be a part of this larger effort, that is why we created these other goals — so that people can help make a difference in the lives of our students and create student impact.”

For information on It Takes a Titan, visit campaign.fullerton.edu.

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