Representatives from United Way Bay Area and Second Harvest of Silicon Valley, with Assemblymember Diane Papan and Alex Kobayashi (Senior District Representative from State Senator Josh Becker’s office), visiting CSM SparkPoint. Photo courtesy of United Way Bay Area.

Representatives from United Way Bay Area and Second Harvest of Silicon Valley, with Assemblymember Diane Papan and Alex Kobayashi (Senior District Representative from State Senator Josh Becker’s office), visiting CSM SparkPoint. Photo courtesy of United Way Bay Area.

In a recently unveiled study by one of CSM’s partnering organizations, United Way Bay Area (UWBA), the effectiveness of CSM’s SparkPoint Center is shining through. The study findings reveal that students who received SparkPoint’s robust services exhibited a significantly higher tendency to stay enrolled and attain their academic objectives.

Drawing from the comprehensive study, which included over 10,000 students during the 2018-2019 academic span, SparkPoint participants were found to be 127% more inclined to remain in college. This trend continued into the following school year, 2019-2020, with these students showing an 86% increased likelihood to persist in their educational journeys, culminating in successful degree completions or transfers to four-year colleges.

CSM SparkPoint’s effectiveness stems from its dedication to addressing financial and basic student needs. The center has emerged as a prominent resource on campus, revolutionizing student support services. By offering an array of free services, such as financial coaching, free groceries, and housing support, CSM SparkPoint ensures that each student can handle academic and personal challenges. In the last academic year alone, CSM SparkPoint served 1,595 students on campus.

“CSM SparkPoint is dedicated to supporting self-determination and students reaching their full potential in and out of the classroom,” says Julie Gardner, Director of CSM SparkPoint and Crisis Relief Programs. Gardner emphasizes the program’s role in mitigating financial challenges and basic needs, often considered significant impediments to academic progression. “With the exceptional cost of living in the Bay Area, financial, food, and housing challenges can hinder student progress. CSM SparkPoint works to provide services, guidance, and resource referrals to overcome basic needs obstacles that can limit a student from achieving their educational aspirations.”

Recently, CSM hosted representatives from community partners, United Way Bay Area and Second Harvest of Silicon Valley, for a site visit of CSM SparkPoint. Local elected official Assemblymember Diane Papan and a representative from State Senator Josh Becker’s office, Alex Kobayashi, also joined the tour. The group visited the Free Grocery Center and the Free Drive-Thru Grocery operation CSM hosts every Friday for its students and the community.

SMCCCD Vice Chancellor of Education Services and Planning, Aaron McVean, taking CSM campus guests on a tour of CSM SparkPoints Free Drive-Thru Grocery operation, occurring every Friday in CSM Parking Lot X. Photo courtesy of United Way Bay Area.

SMCCCD Vice Chancellor of Education Services and Planning, Aaron McVean, taking CSM campus guests on a tour of CSM SparkPoints Free Drive-Thru Grocery operation, occurring every Friday in CSM Parking Lot X. Photo courtesy of United Way Bay Area.

“CSM is seeing amazing enrollment growth, which translates to more students needing more services to ensure they thrive academically. CSM SparkPoint is developing plans to meet the basic needs of food, housing, and financial literacy for the many new students we see on campus,” Shares David Crafts, Dean of Enrollment Services and Student Support Programs at CSM. “Partnering with Assemblymember Papan’s and Senator Becker’s teams will be essential in meeting these needs.”

Indeed, as SparkPoint continues to embed itself within the campus culture at College of San Mateo, its pivotal role in crafting a future where students in San Mateo County can thrive academically without barriers.

Read the United Way Bay Area press release and dive deeper into the full study. To learn more and explore the transformative services offered by CSM SparkPoint or to book a virtual drop-in appointment, visit the CSM SparkPoint site or read the CSM SparkPoint 2022–2023 Impact Report.