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$20 million gift to university by Daniel J. Epstein and Robert and Allison Price
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$20 million gift to university by Daniel J. Epstein and Robert and Allison Price

In a historic moment, Cal State San Marcos has announced two philanthropic donations totaling $20 million – the largest gifts in its 35-year history.

A transformative grant of $10 million from Price Philanthropies Foundation will create a first-of-its-kind, three-year accelerated bachelor’s degree and workforce pipeline for behavioral and mental health.

As part of this groundbreaking milestone and becoming the largest donors to CSUSM, visionary philanthropist Daniel J. Epstein – a director of the CSUSM Foundation Board – and his wife, Phyllis, have committed to an additional gift of $10 million. Their contribution will serve as a unique dollar-for-dollar matching gift opportunity for all CSUSM donors to double their impact across campus.

“Phyllis and I are incredibly impressed by CSUSM and President Ellen Neufeldt’s strong commitment to bridge the opportunity gap and create a more equitable and inclusive San Diego,” Daniel Epstein said. “As a regionally focused university with a highly diverse student population, CSUSM is one of the most transformative institutions in the Southern California region, impacting lives and entire communities. We are proud to pledge our support and we hope community members will join us.”

The matching gift from the Epsteins will create a ripple effect, reaching into the core of CSUSM’s mission of student success and fortifying an era of unprecedented innovation to advance social mobility. Investments stemming from this gift will have a direct and positive impact on funding to support the people, places and programs of CSUSM’s upcoming comprehensive fundraising campaign. This unparalleled opportunity presents a landmark moment for donors to double their impact, providing meaningful and transformational investments at CSUSM now and for future generations.

“We are eternally grateful for the extraordinary investments in our students and community made possible by Dan and Phyllis Epstein and the Price Philanthropies Foundation,” Neufeldt said. “With CSUSM being a national leader in social mobility, the one-to-one matching philanthropic gift will catapult our campaign efforts to support critical student success initiatives. Having their confidence in CSUSM has already inspired generous supporters in our community. I am proud to partner with Price Philanthropies on such a powerful new workforce-connected accelerated bachelor’s degree program, bringing a first-of-its-kind model into the state of California to address surging behavioral and mental health employment demands.”

Daniel J. Epstein received an honorary degree during a CSUSM graduation ceremony in 2021 accompanied by his wife Phyllis.

Through the partnership with Price Philanthropies — which is committed to transforming the lives of youth and families — this multiyear program grant invests in the most urgent workforce needs in the behavioral and mental health industry. Amid an environment where the need for mental health and wellness services for children and families has increased exponentially, San Diego Workforce Partnership reports that San Diego County will require more than 18,000 new qualified mental health professionals by 2027. The funding will help embed dual enrollment, professional certificates and enhanced career preparation in a three-year degree pathway. This innovative approach expedites the placement of qualified people into critical roles with an escalated earning potential, a perfect example of social mobility in action.

“We are extremely grateful to President Neufeldt and her team for their partnership in creating an accelerated pathway for students to earn a bachelor’s degree in three years rather than the traditional four or more years. This innovative and potentially revolutionary approach to higher education offers the potential for students to complete their undergraduate work in less time and be better prepared to enter the workforce,” said Robert and Allison Price. “We believe that the three-year bachelor’s degree program can become a model that can be replicated not only in the field of health care but also in many other occupational disciplines.”

The degree pathway will provide hundreds of students with immersive, hands-on experiences through internships, simulations and real-world projects, allowing them to graduate in fewer than four years and directly enter the region’s workforce. The program is being meticulously crafted to align with the evolving needs of the mental and behavioral health field by integrating industry insights, expert guidance and tailored coursework.

This model emulates the vision and purpose of CSUSM to lift its students, their families and the region, bolstering the university’s standing among the top 1% nationally in social mobility.

To be a part of the unique Epstein family match for student success and social mobility and to help shape the future of the university, CSUSM invites the community to participate.

Photo: Daniel Epstein

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