Cerritos College News Release - September 2009

Cerritos College Receives $2.5 Million Title V Grant for its Innovative Developmental Education Initiative

iFALCON Addresses Traits Essential to Student Success

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 21 2009

Media Contact: Aya Abelon, Public Affairs; (562) 860-2451 ext. 2287

NORWALK, Calif. – September 21, 2009 – Cerritos College received $2.5 million in a grant from the U.S. Department of Education to support its innovative academic success program “iFALCON.”

The grant, paid over a five-year period, is to be used for data collection, research, program and website expansions, development of a student support network, and ultimately to institutionalize the experimental iFALCON campaign.

The Strengthening Hispanic Serving Institutions Grant was created to help eligible institutions of higher education enhance and expand their capacity to serve Hispanic and low-income students by providing funds to improve and strengthen the academic quality, institutional stability, management, and fiscal capabilities of eligible institutions.

According to the study conducted by the Cerritos College Faculty Senate, 93% of its students are assessed as lacking basic skills, and almost 40% fail to succeed in their coursework. Of the College’s Hispanic students, who comprise 54% of the student body, only 36% achieve their stated educational goals.

The iFALCON campaign, which was introduced by the Faculty Senate as pilot program last fall, addresses these issues and aims to educate Cerritos College students on how to practice and adopt success-oriented habits of mind.

The campaign emphasizes a FALCON acronym and an iFALCON slogan to reiterate to students the tools they need to get the most from their education. The FALCON acronym engages students in six habits of academic success: Focus, Advance, Link Up, Comprehend, Organize and New Ideas. In the pilot semester, iFALCON was used around campus to help students remember to use the success-oriented habits of mind. Falcon is used as a verb and “to Falcon” means to practice the habits of success that are being taught to the students in the classrooms.

“The program received very positive feedback from students during the pilot semesters,” said Dr. Stephen Clifford, English professor and co-director of the iFALCON campaign along with Lynn Serwin, associate professor of English. “The entire campus - including faculty, staff, managers and students - has contributed to introduce the iFALCON concept and the study skills to students, which was amazing.”

“It’s a very unique academic success program, which, I believe, doesn’t exist at any other colleges,” said Dr. Bryan Reece, interim dean of Humanities and Social Sciences, who founded the iFALCON initiative. “This grant will help us institutionalize the campaign and provide a good student success initiative model for other colleges and universities to follow.”

For Rosa Castañeda, the campaign has changed her behavior.  Castañeda is the vice president of the Associated Students of Cerritos College and the president of the iFALCON club, which was established to raise funds to support the iFALCON scholarship for students. Juggling school, job and student government and club responsibilities, she manages to balance and organize her challenging schedule by practicing the iFALCON habits.

“The iFalcon campaign presents the necessary skills that students need to apply, not only within their academic studies, but to their life,” said Castañeda.  “These are the life skills one will need in order to succeed in anything one sets one's mind to. I can definitely say that this campaign has already helped a multitude of students.”


Cerritos College serves as a comprehensive community college for southeastern Los Angeles County. Communities within the college’s district include Artesia, Bellflower, Cerritos, Downey, Hawaiian Gardens, La Mirada, Norwalk, and portions of Bell Gardens, Lakewood, Long Beach, Santa Fe Springs and South Gate. Cerritos College offers degrees and certificates in more than 180 areas of study in nine divisions. Annually, more than 1,200 students successfully complete their course of studies, and enrollment currently averages nearly 23,000 students. Visit Cerritos College online at http://www.cerritos.edu/.