$75,000 grant helps Latinos complete degrees


CSU-Pueblo is one of five institutions nationwide to be awarded a $75,000 SEMILLAS grant from the non-profit organization Excelencia in Education. 

Semillas, the Spanish word for seeds, serves as a double meaning for the organization’s mission as it also stands for: Seeding Educational Models that Impact and Leverage Latino Academic Success.

The SEMILLAS grants are part of Excelencia in Education’s “Growing What Works” national initiative. The initiative supports the creation of educational programs to advance Latino achievement in two-year and four-year colleges, according to a news release by Excelencia Sept. 23. This year, the grants are supported by the Kresge Foundation.

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The colleges and universities receiving the grant must use the awarded money for work in one of three program areas: integrating services to improve retention for first generation Latino college students, promoting seamless transfer for Latino students moving from two-year to four-year institutions or developing and sustaining academic programs and practices designed to engage Latino students in the learning process for successful completion of their degrees, the press release states.

At CSU-Pueblo, the grant will fund the Graduation Achievement Project, which eases the return of Latino students who have left the university without completing their degrees. The Latino students must have left the university in good standing and have 90 or more credit hours.

The project aspires to graduate 75 percent of participating students with a bachelor’s degree, according to the press release. 

“We’re excited to receive the Kresge SEMILLAS grant because it will allow us to extend much needed support to Latinos who want to resume their education, complete their requirements and get their degrees,” President Joseph Garcia said in the press release.

“We‘re not changing the standards for earning a degree, but we are making it much easier for former students to return to campus by streamlining the re-entry process.”

 In order to be considered to receive money for the grant, the project coordinator will evaluate students’ transcripts to determine the courses needed to graduate.

The coordinator will then work closely with the student to complete the necessary forms, create a timeline to graduate, and to register for online or campus courses that meet the needs and schedule of each student.

Essentially, the project coordinator will act as a concierge to guide each student to graduation, according to the press release.

 “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 of Excelencia in Education in the press release.

“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 SEMILLAS grants were also awarded to Texas A&M University in Brazos County, Texas; San Diego State University in San Diego, Calif.; University of Arizona in Tucson, Ariz.; and Palm Beach State College in Lake Worth, Fla.

For more information about the CSU-Pueblo proposal contact Erin Frew, assistant provost of assessment and learning at 719-549-2207 or erin.frew@colostate-pueblo.edu.