The Office of Pre-College Programs at Cal State San Bernardino continues to make a profound impact by providing middle and high school students with educational and personal support services to help them graduate high school, and eventually, college.

In fact, in the last 10 years, CSUSB has grown from having two pre-college programs serving 100 students per year, across six high schools, to now housing programs serving more than 10,000 students per year, across 16 school districts in San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

And with new programs and a new executive director, the office continues to expand.

“As the executive director, my goals include continuing to grow opportunities for pre-college access throughout the Inland Empire with a focus on communities that are traditionally underrepresented in higher education in both the San Bernardino and Palm Desert service areas,” said Summer Steele, who assumed her role as the office’s first executive director earlier this year.

“I am also committed to ensuring that all pre-college programs are working together to avoid duplication of services and ensure maximum reach,” she added.

The success of CSUSB’s pre-college programs, Steele says, is greatly linked to the unwavering support of the staff who serve in these projects.

“Every team member, including paraprofessional, part-time, and professional staff, have invested so much of themselves into the work that they do,” she continued. “It is through the relationships that they build and sustain that students, families and community stakeholders form deep connections to the programs and campus.”

While every pre-college program has a slightly varied focus, service offerings and participant profile, all share a common mission: to provide holistic support aimed at student success. Some key features include:

  • College and financial assistance: Every program assists students and families with college and financial aid applications. They also provide both financial benefits and basic needs assistance.
  • Case management and supportive services: Each project provides some form of case management with coaching, connection to resources and other supportive services.
  • Intensive summer programs: Many programs provide intensive summer programs with academic enrichment courses, service learning and residential stays.
  • Cultural activities: Beyond academics, some of these programs take students on cultural outings, broadening their horizons and fostering a love for learning.
  • Free access: All programs are free!

CSUSB students benefit from the programs as well, as they are given opportunities to serve as educational coaches, office staff or fellows. These students receive ongoing professional development and work in K-12 and adult school settings. The Office of Pre-College Programs typically hosts about 100 student and/or volunteer positions every year.

Additionally, pre-college program alumni, many of whom are CSUSB alumni, are making an impact in the community.

“Our programs are proud to have numerous graduates serving as nurses and health care professionals, teachers and other educators, directors of college access programs, financial managers, counselors, school psychiatrists, lawyers, council members, law enforcement professionals, entrepreneurs and so much more,” said Steele.

These programs, which have contributed to the enrollment growth at CSUSB and have brought in more than $22 million in funding in the last two years, include:

  • Upward Bound (1982-present) – two programs, 130 students 
  • Upward Bound Math/Science (2011-present) – one program, 63 students
  • GEAR UP (2014-2021) – 1 program, 4,000 students 
  • Educational Talent Search (2016-present) – three programs, 1,500 students
  • First Star Academy - (2015-present) – one program, 40 students 
  • Cal-SOAP (2020-present) – one program, up to 10,000 middle and high school students per year 
  • Educational Opportunity Center (2021-present) – one program, 850 returning adult learners per year
  • College Corps (2022-present) – one program, 75 CSUSB students serving as fellows in K-12 districts and education-related community organizations per year, including 25 AB540 students
  • College Assistant Migrant Program (2022-present) – one program, 50 first-year migrant students per year 
  • High School Equivalency Program (2023-present) – one program, 75 migrant adults connecting to high school equivalency programs
  • Fleischer Scholars Programs (2022-present) – one program, 50 high school juniors in entrepreneurial education

This historical investment in pre-college equity and access work, Steele says, is a testament to CSUSB’s commitment to improving the economic and educational outcomes for the Inland Empire. For her, being part of these programs is particularly special.

“As a first-generation college graduate myself,” she said, “this work is my life’s passion.”

For more information, visit the Office of Pre-College Programs website.