Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Julia Brownley (D-Westlake Village) announced two federal grants totaling more than $350,000 for California Lutheran University to support underrepresented students at both the K-12 and post-baccalaureate levels.

California Lutheran University will receive $125,348 from the U.S. Department of Education as part of the Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Program, which helps elementary and secondary schools identify gifted and talented students and meet their special educational needs, with a focus on students who are economically disadvantaged, have limited English proficiency, or have a disability. The Department of Education anticipates this grant will be funded for five years, totaling more than $625,000.

“Every student deserves to be challenged in a rigorous learning environment and to have the opportunity to reach their full potential,” said Congresswoman Brownley. “I am pleased that Cal Lutheran is receiving this funding, because it will give local students – especially those who are all too often left behind – the chance to harness their abilities and get on the path for higher education success.”

“This grant will enable us to study how to identify giftedness in marginalized student populations such as African-Americans, English learners and students with autism spectrum disorder and to develop better ways to serve them,” said project director Melissa Spence, an assistant professor in Cal Lutheran’s Graduate School of Education who spent 10 years working as a special education teacher for students with autism. “We need to do a better job of meeting the needs of these underserved students so they can thrive and go on to college and graduate.”

California Lutheran University will also receive $232,263 from the U.S. Department of Education as part of the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program, which provides funding to higher education institutions for projects that specifically help underrepresented college students pursue doctoral studies. This grant program is one of eight federal TRIO programs designed to ensure that students traditionally underrepresented in postsecondary education receive the support and assistance they need to succeed in college and beyond. The Department of Education anticipates this grant will be funded for five years, totaling more than $1.16 million.

“These funds will help create stronger pipelines to graduate school for young people who are typically underrepresented in these programs,” said Congresswoman Brownley. “Scholars and researchers are tackling the big questions and major challenges of our time. It is important that we promote a diversity of perspectives and backgrounds in advanced fields.”

“This $1.16 million McNair grant will enable us to provide high-potential students who are traditionally underrepresented in graduate schools with research programs and scholarly activities that will prepare them for earning doctorates,” said project director Haco Hoang, a professor of political science at Cal Lutheran. “Today, many highly-valued careers require graduate degrees and we must help students from disadvantaged segments of society realize their potential by eliminating barriers to their academic success. We all benefit when there is a diversity of people and ideas at the highest levels.”

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