Treasure Valley Community College. (The Enterprise/File)
ONTARIO – The number of Latino students at Treasure Valley Community College could potentially bring the school roughly $1 million in additional funding over the course of five years.
The college’s current student body is 29% Latino. The number means the college qualifies for a grant awarded to schools that meet the federal government’s definition of a Hispanic-serving institution. The school will apply for the grant next year.
It’s a big deal, said TVCC President Dana Young.
Only one other college in Oregon, Chemeketa Community College, currently receives such a grant from the U.S. Department of Education.
It’s the first time in TVCC’s history that the school has met the eligibility requirements for the federal grant, which requires that at least 25% of students enrolled full-time identify as Hispanic.
“We have been working for years to get above” that number, Young said.
While that funding aims to expand educational opportunities for underrepresented groups, the funds would ultimately be a boost for the whole college, said Cathy Yasuda, TVCC’s chief development officer.
“We’ll be able to implement resources that are really going to help the entire student body,” Yasuda said.
The college has worked on several initiatives to recruit and retain Hispanic students, said Young.
The school formed a diversity committee in 2017 to focus on the needs of minority students. In 2019, the college kicked off Equity Week, featuring a series of panels which last year focused on identity, diversity and inclusion at the college.
Young pointed to the college’s high school equivalency program focused on migrant farm workers and students who need to get a GED.
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The college also has one of four College Assistance Migrant Programs in the state. Known as CAMP, the federal program is designed to help students from migrant farmworker families navigate college life and provides scholarships and mentorship resources.
Young also pointed to the school’s partnership with Four Rivers Community School. The charter school’s student body is predominantly Hispanic – 83% at last year’s count.
The charter school leases space from Four Rivers Cultural Center next door to TVCC and students in 9th through 12th grade take college-level classes from the community college.
“It’s an early college model that took us a while to develop,” said Young. “It’s been a huge success for us.”
TVCC has also hosted the Oregon Migrant Leadership Institute, a summer camp that recruits middle school students from migrant farmworker backgrounds to teach them about college.
Many Latino students face unique challenges.
Financially, it’s a struggle for many, said Young.
“We make sure they know about the resources. Once they’re here we have a robust scholarship application process where they can apply and receive foundation scholarships,” she added.
Hispanic students are also more likely to be first-generation college students; as many as 48% are the first in their family to go to college, according to the Postsecondary National Policy Institute.
College can be intimidating, said Young.
At TVCC, the 2018 retention rate from fall to fall was 59% for Hispanic students and 56% for all students.
The retention rate in 2018 from the first term/semester to the second was 68% for Hispanic students compared to 75% for the entire student body.
“We would like it to be 100%,” Young said. “We’re always looking at what more we could be doing to help all students get through and be successful.”
National numbers also indicate that Hispanic college students are less likely to graduate on time.
A lot of TVCC students don’t sign up for a summer term, which delays graduation, said Miguel Lopez, TVCC’s director of institutional effectiveness and planning.
“We are committed to this mission of serving our regional population, and making sure that every student has an opportunity for an education,” Young said.
Have a news tip? Reporter Yadira Lopez: [email protected] or 541-473-3377
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