University reaches out to African-Americans

Fresno State joined in this month on Super Sunday for the first time.

The annual Super Sunday program, in effect since 2005, is designed to reach out to the African-American community through Sunday morning church services.

Administrators and faculty from universities around the state will visit more than 100 churches throughout February.
African-American students made up 5.3 percent of Fresno State’s population in fall 2009.

Fresno State President John Welty visited Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in Fresno on Feb. 21, and will visit Mt. Olive Baptist Church on Feb. 28.

In an e-mail interview, Welty said the program is designed to inform students and their parents about the importance of preparing for college. He said the program falls in line with the California State University’s (CSU) pledge to graduate more underserved students.

“[The program] helps to encourage young people to think about and plan for college,” Welty said. “It also offers information about financial aid.”

Welty said the day was a success.

Tanya Crabb, from University Outreach Services, said predominantly African-American churches have historically promoted spiritual and cultural socializations, efforts for social betterment, community outreach, and educational welfare at all levels.

“Churches provide a rare opportunity to serve elementary, middle and high school students in one venue; whereas, individual public schools typically serve only one segment of these populations,” Crabb said.

Crabb, who also attended Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church on Feb. 21, said building partnerships with churches provides the university with the opportunity to increase the enrollment of students from underserved communities.

“Many faith-based organizations are in communities where students attend schools with low admission rates to the CSU system,” Crabb said.

James Walton, chair of the English department, will be speaking at Saints Community Church of God on Sunday Feb. 28.
“Church is very critical to African-Americans,” Walton said.

Walton said the church has traditionally been at the center of the African-American community.

Walton said this program is important because there are no historically African-American colleges or universities near California. Other parts of the country, like the South and East Coast, have historically African-American universities to reach out to African-American students and their parents.

Walton said African-American students often have the perception that some colleges are impervious.

“When the president goes out, or when faculty goes out to the black church, an institution that is exclusively a part of the black community, I think some of those notions can be dispelled,” Walton said.

Walton said, despite the increases in tuition, some students may see college as unattainable.

“We can get these students to start thinking more about going to college,” Walton said.

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