In addition to the California State University's dedicated faculty and staff, alumni play a key role in helping students map a clear path toward graduation and career success.

Throughout the CSU, alumni have launched mentorship, advising, hiring and other support programs that contribute to student success and the CSU's Graduation Initiative 2025.

"As the largest constituency of the CSU family, our 3.4 million alumni know what it takes to earn a CSU degree," said CSU Alumni Council President Manolo Morales. "Our job now is to connect with today's students to produce the next generation of California success stories."

The Graduation Initiative has been a top priority of the CSU Alumni Council. Their most recent board meetings focused on how alumni can support the Graduation Initiative in two major areas: addressing students' basic needs and early career development.

The council also passed a resolution committing to be an active and engaged partner in student success. Part of this commitment was to take the ideas from the meeting and produce a toolkit of best practices that campus alumni associations can draw upon to help their campus meet its own Graduation Initiative 2025 goals and create more meaningful engagement opportunities for alumni who want to give back.

Many of the programs highlighted in the toolkit connect students to alumni with successful careers in their fields of study who are eager to provide career advice and job opportunities.

For example, at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo's Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, alumni in the startup world help budding student entrepreneurs get a foot in the door. Their hands-on mentorship and weekly workshops help students turn their ideas into businesses. More than 200 Cal Poly alumni and community members have volunteered as mentors, coaches and advisors.

Programs like San Diego State's Aztecs Hiring Aztecs show how partnering with the career center can strengthen the alumni network on campus and beyond. Through another initiative, the Aztec Mentor Program, SDSU alumni share their professional expertise with current students. Students and alumni can also access an online portal to apply for jobs, schedule on-campus interviews and consult with career counselors.

As food and housing security are critical to student success, CSU alumni are also joining in on the CSU's effort to address students' basic needs.

Alumni have launched fundraising campaigns to collect donations for campus food pantries, which provide food and hygiene products for students challenged with food insecurity. This year, Fresno State's March Match Up raised more than $184,000 for the campus student cupboard. In a 24-hour fundraising blitz, Chico State raised more than $56,000 including a $5,000 gift from a 98-year-old alumna who wanted to pay forward the assistance she received as a student during the recovery from the Great Depression.

Student affairs and the alumni association at Sacramento State created the "Host a Hornet" program, where interested alumni are matched with a food-insecure student who they invite into their home for dinner twice a month.

CSU alumni want students to feel that they are part of the CSU family and will be supported through their academic journey in a variety of ways, Morales says.

"Alumni mentorship programs are not new, but sharing the diverse programs offered throughout the CSU inspires new ways for alumni to contribute to student success while fostering a campus culture inclusive of alumni," Morales said. "Our goal is to involve as many of the CSU's alumni in the success of Graduation Initiative 2025 as possible."