The reach of CSUN VITA extended far beyond its traditional roots in the San Fernando Valley in 2019, thanks to a new collaboration between CSUN and four other Los Angeles County California State University campuses — known as the CSU5 — and six LA-based community colleges.
The CSU5 Plus VITA Collaboration expanded VITA’s service area from Long Beach in the south, Antelope Valley in the north, to Pomona in the east, Santa Monica in the west and all areas in between. The services are available to those with household annual incomes of $55,000 or less.
CSUN officials, business leaders and elected officials gathered Feb. 9 in front of Bookstein Hall — home to the David Nazarian College of Business and Economics, which oversees the VITA clinics — to celebrate this expansion. CSUN President Dianne F. Harrison was joined by U.S. Congressman Tony Cárdenas (D-Los Angeles); Bill Allen Hon.D. ’14, chief executive officer of the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation; Lisa Salazar, director of workforce development and economic opportunity for the Los Angeles mayor’s office: Tracy Chadwick, acting director for the IRS Stakeholder Partnerships, Education & Communication (SPEC), Area 3 office; and Rafi Efrat, Bookstein Chair in Taxation and the director of the CSUN VITA Clinic.
“The taxpayers we serve have the opportunity to obtain vital resources for a financial fresh start in their lives,” Efrat said.
Efrat received a $344,250 grant from the California Department of Community Services and Development to expand the VITA program to include the CSU5 Plus VITA Collaboration. The campuses in the CSU5 — Northridge, Los Angeles, Dominguez Hills, Long Beach and Pomona — work together to ensure their educational and research strengths play a significant role in shaping the future of the region.
The community colleges taking part in the collaboration include College of the Canyons, East Los Angeles College, Los Angeles Mission College, Long Beach City College, Mount San Antonio College and Santa Monica College. Students at each of the 11 participating colleges obtained training to become an IRS-certified tax volunteer, and the community college students can continue their efforts when they transfer to a nearby CSU campus.
Thanks to the expansion, the VITA clinics deployed more than 850 student volunteers and served more than 14,000 low-income taxpayers in Los Angeles County, and generated over $14.3 million in federal refunds, as well as $4.3 million in federal Earned Income Tax Credits, Efrat said. The 11-campus collaboration had the ability to provide free tax preparation assistance to non-English speakers including those who speak Spanish, Armenian, Russian, Korean, Japanese, Arabic, Vietnamese, Chinese and Farsi.