SWTJC selected for $600,000 Lumina Foundation grant

Email this article 11/09/2011

The Lumina Foundation announced this week that Southwest Texas Junior College will be the recipient of a $600,000 grant over the next four years focusing on leveraging the critical connection between the educational attainment of Latinos and the future of our national economy.

Under its Latino Student Success project, Lumina will provide a total of $7.2 million to 12 partnerships in 10 states with significant and growing Latino populations.

"The Latino success project is the culmination of nearly two years of planning and engagement with many foundations and national leaders in the Latino community," said Lumina President and CEO Jamie Merisotis. "Through these partnerships, we aim to build bridges among leadership groups already working to improve Latino college student success."

According to SWTJC Dean of Institutional Advancement and Technology Dr. Blaine Bennett, SWTJC learned of its selection last month but the official announcement was not made until Nov. 7.

"We are extremely proud and honored to be the only college in Texas selected for this grant," said Bennett. "We look forward to working with our partners in the region to improve the graduation and transfer rates of our Latino students."

SWTJC Technical Programs Director Johnny Guzman, led a team of SWTJC partners on a recent visit to Lumina Foundation headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana, to meet with the other groups chosen as grant recipients.

"Our team met representatives from the other grant recipients and heard various experts talk about how Latino's educational attainment will be a key to our nation's future economic success," Guzman said.

Attending the meeting with Guzman were Nilka Aviles, Senior Education Associate with the Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA); John Moder, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU); Betty Sifuentes, Director of Workforce Programs, Middle Rio Grande Development Council (MRGDC); and Dr. Paul Sorrels, Associate Provost, Sul Ross State University – Rio Grande College.

"This was a very interesting and challenging experience and we were so very impressed to be among 11 other grant recipients from much larger schools in much larger urban areas," Dr. Sorrells said. "Clearly Lumina and their evaluation team believe that south Texas is an area of need and that the coalition of partners SWTJC has assembled can have significant social impact in improving the college completion rate for Hispanics."

At more than 50 million, Latinos represent the largest and fastest-growing population group in the U.S. By 2025, half of the nation's workers will be of Latino descent. At that time, 63% of all jobs in the U.S. will require some form of postsecondary education or training, according to labor economist Anthony Carnevale of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.

The Lumina Foundation is an Indianapolis-based private foundation committed to enrolling and graduating more students from college – especially low-income students, students of color, first-generation students and adult learners. Lumina's goal is to increase the percentage of Americans who hold high-quality degrees and credentials to 60% by 2025.

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