14:27 PM

STC Celebrates DHSI Year 1 Hispanic-Serving Institutions Grant Achievements


South Texas College held its DHSI Grant Year One Celebration on Oct. 13. The U.S. Department of Education initially awarded more than $2.5 million to South Texas College over five-years under its Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions (DHSI) Program. Left to right Isaac Garza, Office of Strategic Initiatives Project Manager; Dr. Rachel Sale, Dean of Distance Learning; Celinda Salinas, Director of Career and Employer Services; Lynell Williams, Director for Centers for Learning Excellence; Carla M. Rodriguez, DHSI Project Coordinator; Shannon Perales, Starfish Administrator; Dr. Ali Esmaeili, Dean of Math, Science, IT and Bachelor Programs; Dr. Anahid Petrosian, Interim Vice President of Academic Affairs; and Dr. David Plummer, Vice-President of Information Services, Planning & Strategic Initiatives.

A year has passed since South Texas College became the recipient of a significant boost in funding in 2020 from the U.S. Department of Education under the Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions (DHSI) Program.

Now one year later, STC held a celebratory event to review year-one milestones and achievements of the grant’s project activities.

Grant project owners provided an overview of their successes among four key components including Academic Coaching, Online Tutoring, Starfish and Financial Literacy, each with various activities that are laying the infrastructure for meeting objectives of the grant in the coming year.

Carla M. Rodriguez, STC’s DHSI Project Coordinator who began with the college in June, made it known that the COVID-19 pandemic did impose delays to grant implementation, but as of October 2021 all grant-funded positions have now been filled and all major foundational activities under the grant components are now in place, which will make Year 2 more streamlined, she said.

“At its core, the DHSI grant is all about improving and enhancing student support services, and those services are the heart of the college, to create pathways for student success and education attainment,” Rodriguez said.

Carla M. Rodriguez, DHSI Project Coordinator
“At its core, the DHSI grant is all about improving and enhancing student support services, and those services are the heart of the college, to create pathways for student success and education attainment."
Carla M. Rodriguez, DHSI Project Coordinator

Year 2 of the DHSI grant will focus on continued academic coaching and certification training for the college’s academic coaches, expanded online tutoring services and subject tutorials, additional Starfish training for staff and faculty, and financial literacy services provided through a cloud-based platform.

“It’s great to be a part of this project because I get to facilitate the processes that will have a positive impact on student persistence, academic achievement, as well as personal and professional growth areas,” Rodriguez said. “The DHSI grant program overall is about improving academic offerings and program quality. The grants are designed to enable institutions to create those student success pathways and sustain those operational assets to ensure that the return on investment is fulfilled, not just by the DOE but the college as well.”  

The U.S. Department of Education awarded STC $585,315 for year one of a grant that is anticipated to provide more than $2.5 million over a five-year period. The five-year grant period is from Oct. 1, 2020 to Sept. 30, 2025.

 “Our year two kickoff is scheduled for Oct. 27 where we will collectively review all of the project activities that each project owner is responsible for, as well as establish timelines for areas of the grant requiring procurement,” Rodriguez said.

With the Project Coordinator at the helm, Rodriguez advised stakeholders that year two will include quarterly meetings designed to promote compliance that will include a programmatic and fiscal review of the grant.

Rodriguez also indicated that she will continue collecting monthly project status reports from project owners and will continue with weekly check-ins.

South Texas College qualifies for this grant as a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) with a student body that is currently about 94 percent Hispanic. In addition, 70 percent of its students are the first in their family to attend college.

The Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI) Division of the US Department of Education provides grant funding to institutions of higher education to assist with strengthening institutional programs, facilities, and services to expand the educational opportunities for Hispanic Americans and other underrepresented populations.

South Texas College has been ranked in the Top 3 nationwide and No. 1 in Texas for enrolling and graduating Latinos according to a study published in 2020 by Excelencia in Education, a nonprofit organization that seeks to improve education outcomes for Latino college students.

Excelencia used finding from 2018 that showed the college enrolled 31,949 students in fall 2018, 95 percent of which were Hispanic (30,419). The college also awarded a grand total of 4,112 associate degrees for the 2017-2018 school year, 95 percent of which were awarded to Hispanics (3,923), placing the college second in the nation overall among associate degrees awarded.