Fresno State has received a $1.25 million federal grant to support Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander students interested in criminology and forensic behavioral sciences.

This is the first time the University has received a grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution (AANAPISI) Program since Fresno State was designated an AANAPISI.

“This grant-funded program reflects the campus commitment to Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander students, providing a welcoming campus experience and preparing them for professional careers,” said Dr. Yoshiko Takahashi, professor of criminology and interim associate dean of the College of Social Sciences at Fresno State. “Earning a bachelor’s degree expands opportunities, enhances earning potential and increases social mobility, all of which contribute to making our region thrive.”

The five-year grant aims to expand the University’s capacity to serve students of Asian and Pacific Islander ethnicity in undergraduate criminology and forensic behavioral sciences majors, and to support their careers in criminal justice and victim assistance. Takahashi will serve as principal investigator with Dr. Xuanning Fu, Fresno State’s interim provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. 

Criminology is the largest major at Fresno State with 1,846 undergraduate students enrolled, but it has the lowest representation of Asian American and Pacific Islander students among all large majors. The University has nearly 25,000 students total and about 3,100 identify as Asian American and Pacific Islander, according to fall 2021 enrollment data from the Office of Institutional Effectiveness.  

The long-established programs in the Department of Criminology provide quality education for students planning professional and academic careers in the criminal and civil justice fields, including direct service and administration in corrections, forensic behavioral sciences, law enforcement and victimology. 

The core components of the proposed program supported by the grant are to develop and implement work-based learning experiences, an Asian American Pacific Islander peer mentoring program and community outreach, culturally responsive services training and professional writing in criminal justice. The program will also work to increase enrollment, retention and the six-year graduation rate of Asian American and Pacific Islander criminology and forensic behavioral science students, which aligns with the California State University’s Graduation Initiative 2025 to increase graduation rates for all CSU students while eliminating opportunity and achievement gaps. 

The project will also develop work-based learning experiences for freshmen, sophomores and juniors, sequencing the experience so criminology majors stay connected to career sites from entry to exit.

The grant also aims to enhance and improve outreach efforts in the greater Fresno area, and will attract more Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander students to pursue criminal justice careers and to better serve the diverse communities in the Central Valley.