TUSCON, AZ - The UA is one of five universities nationwide recognized and funded by Excelencia in Education to continue its efforts to retain and graduate Latinos. The grant supports the UA's efforts to grow retention and graduation programs for underserved populations.
The University of Arizona has been awarded a $75,000 SEMILLAS grant to implement a program to increase first-to-second year retention and grade-point averages among Latino college students, the non-profit organization Excelencia in Education announced today.
The UA is one of only five colleges and universities from across the nation chosen by Excelencia to receive a grant.
The SEMILLAS grants, supported in 2010 by the Kresge Foundation, are part of Excelencia in Education's "Growing What Works" national initiative. The initiative supports the replication of effective educational programs to advance Latino achievement in either two-year or four-year colleges. The long-term goal of the project is to increase the use of these programs for the country's fast-growing Latino college age population.
"The partnership with Excelencia will mean that the rest of the nation will know what we've known in Tucson for a long time – that the UA is committed to the graduation of underrepresented students, as demonstrated by our diverse array of scholarship and support programs," UA President Robert N. Shelton said. "We are grateful for the support ofExcelencia in Education."
This grant represents the UA's recognition and commitment toward becoming a Hispanic-serving institution. The designation is given to accredited colleges or universities with 25 percent or more full-time equivalent enrollment of Hispanic undergraduates.
SEMILLAS is the Spanish word for seeds. It also stands for Seeding Educational Models that Impact and Leverage Latino Academic Success.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Latino young adults are less likely to have earned an associate degree or higher than other young adults. In 2008, 8 percent of Latinos 18 to 24 years of age had earned a degree, compared to 14 percent of all young adults.
Latino adults 25 years and older were also less likely to have earned an associate degree or higher than other adults, with 19 percent of Latinos earning a degree, compared with 29 percent of blacks, 39 percent of whites and 59 percent of Asians. Meanwhile, census projections estimate that Latinos will be 22 percent of the nation's college-age population by 2020.
"As the largest emerging student population in the country, college success for Latino students has far-reaching implications for our communities, our future workforce and our national economy," said Sarita Brown, president ofExcelencia in Education. "The recipients of the 2010 Kresge SEMILLAS grants are critical to our national effort to increase Latino college completion and thus achieve the country's college completion goals by 2020."
The 2010 Kresge SEMILLAS grant award recipients include:
University of Arizona
Texas A&M University, Commerce
Colorado State University, Pueblo
San Diego State University
Palm Beach State College
A full list and description of programs by the SEMILLAS grant recipients may be found at http://edexcelencia.org/programs/what_works/.
These colleges and universities received grants for work in one of three program areas:
Integrating services to improve retention for first-generation Latino college-goers.
Promosing seamless transfer for Latino students moving from two-year to four-year institutions through effective student and academic support services.
Developing and sustaining academic programs and practices designed to engage Latino students in the learning process for successful completion.
UA programs such as New Start; Arizona Assurance; Chicano Hispano Student Affairs; Maximum Educational Results in Two Semesters, or MERITS; Early Academic Outreach and the federally funded TRIO program, along with the various retention and success programs within campus departments, are aimed at increasing overall student retention and graduation rates.
Excelencia staff and members of the "Growing What Works" initiative will work with the selected institutions throughout the 2010-11 academic year and will share their findings on program successes.
"The Kresge Foundation is pleased to support Excelencia's 'Growing What Works' initiative to accelerate Latino student success at two-year and four-year colleges," said Caroline Altman Smith, program officer at the Kresge Foundation. "Through the 2010 Kresge SEMILLAS grants we have an opportunity to grow programs that are effectively advancing Latino student college success; programs that will serve as models for academic institutions across the nation."