By: Claire Caton
The U.S. Department of Education this week awarded the University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) a $3.2 million, five-year grant to improve support systems and opportunities for first-year, first-generation Hispanic college students.
Funded through the Department’s Title V Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI) Program, the grant supports the University’s Project STAR (Student Transition and Retention), which seeks to increase student achievement, persistence and graduation rates. UHD is a federally qualified HSI and Minority-Serving Institution (MSI) and is one of 19 institutions in the nation – and three in the state – to receive this HSI grant.
“We know that Hispanics are the fastest-growing ethnic group pursuing higher education, but we need to improve the graduation rate for Hispanic students and provide opportunities for them to achieve their higher education goals,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “This grant program will help more Latino students have access to quality higher education, which is key to building a highly skilled workforce to compete in a global marketplace.”
Project STAR will advance student achievement and meet HSI goals through three major components: 1) Summer Fast-Track Institutes, which accurately place students in classes based on their scores on the ACCUPLACER Test; 2) Welcome Institutes, which help to acclimate students to the challenges of college studies; and 3) An expansion of the College Acculturation and Personal Success (CAPS) Program, which provides time management skills leading to college success; supplemental tutoring; and online, as well as face-to-face training workshops.
“As more than 60 percent of our students receive need-based financial aid and approximately 60 percent of our graduates are the first in their families to attend college, this grant speaks directly to our mission at UHD,” said Lisa Montgomery, Ph.D., vice president for Student Success and Enrollment Management at UHD. “With these funds, we look forward to expanding the academic and personal support offerings available to our culturally diverse students. This is a cross-collaborative effort between student affairs and academic affairs, and we are thrilled to receive the grant award. The timing could not be better with our planned efforts to grow our enrollment and increase student support services.”