The U.S. Department of Education has awarded College of the Canyons a $3 million Title V Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions grant to help the college support Hispanic students pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering and math, and increase overall retention and completion rates of Hispanic students attending college for the first time.
“We are very excited about this Title V grant,” Omar Torres, chief instructional officer at the college, said in a prepared statement released by the college. “As a Hispanic-serving institution, COC will be better equipped than ever before to provide our Hispanic students with the tools, resources and support they need to academically thrive in STEM fields.”
Beginning in October, the five-year grant will provide the college with funding to support Hispanic students pursuing STEM degrees through a multi-faceted approach of redesigning open educational resources with diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility elements, providing student counseling and support services, as well as increasing the availability of MESA-type services (mathematics, engineering, science, achievement).
In addition, the grant will allow COC to offer robust professional development training in culturally relevant pedagogy to strengthen the capacity and knowledge of faculty to better engage with the diverse needs of Hispanic students, the college said in the release.
COC’s Hispanic student population has steadily grown over the years. In 2022, COC was ranked nationally No. 17 and 35 in The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education Magazine for enrolling the largest number of Hispanic students and granting the most degrees, respectively.
According to the data, the college had a Hispanic population of 15,410 students, totaling 49% of the total student enrollment, which was 31,696 in the year 2020-21. That same year, of the 3,200 associate degrees awarded by the college, 1,459 degree recipients were Hispanic students.
“This funding will make a significant impact for so many of our Hispanic students, many of whom are the first in their families to attend college,” Jasmine Ruys, vice president of student services at the college, said in the release. “We want to do everything we can to help our students succeed while at COC, but also prepare them for the transfer process to a four-year STEM program.”
The federal grant will be the sole source of funding toward the college’s Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions efforts.
The DHSI program provides grants to assist HSIs with expanding educational opportunities for Hispanic students and enhancing their academic offerings, program quality and institutional stability.