Three students pose in their caps and gowns at the City College 2016 commencement ceremony.

San Diego City College commencement in May 2016.

City College secures $2.6M grant to boost programs supporting Hispanic students

September 23, 2016 | San Diego Community College District

Students at San Diego City College will see an array of new and expanded support services aimed at further boosting their graduation and course-completion rates, thanks to a $2.6 million, five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education. 

The grant is funded through the Department of Education’s Title V Hispanic Serving Institutions Program. Hispanic Serving Institutions must have a Hispanic student population of at least 25 percent and are required to engage in efforts to help first-generation, low-income Latino students. Latino enrollment at City College has grown from 28 percent in 2003 to 48 percent in 2014, and more than one-third are first-generation college students. 

“San Diego City College is an innovative college, and we look forward to implementing this grant to help our students achieve their goals,” said City College Interim President Denise Whisenhunt.

Among the efforts the new grant will fund are:

- Up to four new Cultural Competency Centers, also known as cultural hubs, which will be strategically located on campus where students, faculty, and staff can help build a stronger sense of community through cultural activities and social justice projects. The centers also will be a place where all students – especially Latinos – can form study groups, work on projects, and have a centralized meeting/sharing space.

- New programs to reduce the time it takes for students to complete basic skills courses that do not count toward college credit.  This is important because study after study shows that the chances a student will continue with his or her education decreases with each additional basic skills course required. 

- Development of a peer support network for at-risk students. This will include training peer mentors to provide academic guidance and supplemental instruction.

- A professional development program leading to more cultural awareness among faculty and staff, and redesigned courses to incorporate culturally appropriate pedagogies into the classroom.  A new Personal Growth course will explore differences between ethnicity and race and review theories related to integration, sense of belonging, validation, motivation, self-efficacy, and college identity.

The district’s Board of Trustees accepted the grant at its Sept. 22 meeting.

Interim President Whisenhunt and others note that the Title V Hispanic Serving Institution grant builds upon a series of successful efforts implemented at City College that are impacting the lives of its students by boosting success rates.  Among them is the nationally recognized First Year Experience, which requires new students to attend workshops, meet with peer mentors, and collaborate with a counselor in developing an educational plan.  City College also has been at the forefront of community colleges that have implemented strategies to more quickly move students through remedial courses.

City College expects to see  success rates in basic skills courses improving by at least five percentage points by the end of the five-year grant period, higher success rates in historically difficult courses, and improved retention rates.

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