Project Vista (2010-2015), a federal grant award of $2.8 million, was designed to strengthen CI’s graduate culture and enhance the capacity of its post baccalaureate programs to better serve, retain, and graduate Latina/o and other historically underserved and under-represented students. The grant was funded by Title V of the United States Department of Education under the Promoting Post baccalaureate Opportunities for Hispanic Americans (PPOHA) program.
In 2011-2012, our university reported that students who identified as Latina/o made up less than 6% of our post baccalaureate population, a severe discrepancy with the 40% Latina/o share of our county at that time. We have made progress since then. From 2011 to 2015, with the help of grant initiatives made possible by the U.S. Department of Education’s Promoting Postbaccalaureate Opportunities for Hispanic Americans program, our campus experienced: (1) an 18% increase in total postbac enrollment (from 341 to 401, without adding any new programs to our existing four credential and six graduate programs); (2) a 60% decrease in the number of postbac students declining to state ethnicity in their application materials (from 77 to 48); and (3) a 400% increase in the number of identified Latina/o students in our total postbac population (from 20 to 100). Latinas/os comprised 25% of our total postbac enrollment in 2014-2015. While this is a significant improvement over our numbers in 2011-2012—thanks to increases in our overall postbac population and the number of new Latina/o students and decreases students declining to state their ethnicity—we have yet to reach the 41-44% representation of Latinas/os in our service area. Much work remains to be done.
PROJECT VISTA INITIATIVES
With this $2.8 million award, from 2010-2015 we strengthened CI by:
- creating a Graduate Studies Center, Graduate Writing Studio and other new services for credential and graduate students (institutionalized Fall 2015);
- creating a new graduate program, partnering with the School of Education to develop our campus’s first doctoral program (institutionalized, Fall 2015);
- advocating for the unique needs of student-parents in our region, conducting a childcare needs assessments and helped in the planning for our university’s first early care and education center (adopted as part of CI 2025);
- launching mentoring programs to support under-represented students and faculty (institutionalized Fall 2015);
- creating a Summer Critical Friends Group Institute as a form of outreach explicitly for P12 educators who are bilingual and/or working in low-income neighborhood schools who do not yet have a graduate degree (not yet institutionalized)
Smaller initiatives (i.e., they helped change the culture at CI but were less structure-changing) included:
- awarding roughly $150,000 in scholarships;
- hosting guest lectures by regional experts on a range of HSI-related topics;
- conducting studies and disseminating findings on a range of topics (e.g., Latina/o students’ perceptions about graduate school; stories from first-generation faculty, staff and administrators who now work at our university; student-led focus groups about the quality of our university’s climate, academic programs and student services from Latina/o students’ perspectives);
- creating a Campus Writing Guide, involving 40+ faculty from 20+ programs;
- creating Summer Faculty-Student Research Learning Communities, designed to encourage faculty to identify and engage the kind of student in research who may not have a high GPA and who has potential for graduate education but may not yet see themselves in that way;
- partnering with our campus’s Student Success Partnership to engage faculty and staff in conversations that facilitated the sharing of high-impact practices for supporting students’ academic, social and emotional success, in and out of the classroom, and then disseminating the findings from those conversations.