SF State programs help underrepresented, low-income students succeed

Person wearing a black top and black hat posed against a blurred background

SF State student Justin Martinez (above)

Important application deadline coming up Jan. 31

For San Francisco State University senior Justin Martinez, the road to a bachelor's degree hasn’t always been smooth. Martinez — who entered foster care at 14 and, like many San Francisco State students, is the first in his family to attend college — left the University twice due to personal hardships.

Fortunately, he’s found support staying on the road to graduation. With assistance from SF State’s Educational Opportunity & Pathway Programs (EOPP), Martinez is set to graduate next semester with a degree in Psychology. A collection of services, EOPP was created to strengthen the retention and graduation rates of students from historically underserved backgrounds — like Martinez.

“First-generation, underserved students are inevitably going to struggle because many things are stacked up against them,” Martinez said. “EOPP has the support to help these students get through it, especially during times when they may doubt themselves.”

Serving over 3,000 first-generation, low-income and former foster care students at SF State, EOPP consists of three programs: the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), Student Support Services (SSS) and the Guardian Scholars Program (GSP). Together, the programs help about 750 disadvantaged students graduate every year.

To participate in these programs, prospective freshmen and transfer students need to complete the EOP portion of the Cal State Apply application for undergraduate admissions. Once they are enrolled at SF State as an EOP student, they are eligible to apply for SSS and GSP. EOP applications for the 2020 – 2021 academic year will close on Jan. 31.

Below is an overview of the programs and how each can benefit students.

Educational Opportunity Program (EOP)

Celebrating its 50th anniversary during fall semester, EOP provides outreach, admissions, academic and financial support. Students participate in workshops designed to increase retention and graduation rates, and receive ongoing advising, tutoring and mentoring. EOP also hosts Summer Bridge, a multi-day program that helps incoming students get acclimated to SF State before the academic year starts.

Student Support Services (SSS)

A federally funded program supported by the U.S. Department of Education, SSS provides intensive academic advising. The program aims to increase retention and graduation rates by providing counseling, tutorials, workshops and priority registration to 160 participants in their first two years at SF State.

Guardian Scholars Program (GSP)

GSP is a self-sustaining, grant-supported program that serves former foster care youth through holistic case management interventions. In collaboration with SF State’s School of Social Work, the program helps participants graduate and develop into self-supporting, conscious community leaders, role models and successful professionals.

Through these programs, EOPP Director Oscar Martin Gardea believes the University creates a safe and secure place where students can unlock their full potential. “EOPP taps into the internal success they have and brings it out,” said Gardea. “We’re not casting magic spells here. We’re just moving students in the right direction.” 

For more information, including important dates and deadlines, please visit the EOPP website.