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 Michelle Street, foreground, right, an instructor for transfer success seminar, gives a tour of the campus to transfer students in their first semester at Cal State University, Northridge. Photo: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
 Michelle Street, foreground, right, an instructor for transfer success seminar, gives a tour of the campus to transfer students in their first semester at Cal State University, Northridge. Photo: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Hispanic Serving Institutions to receive $254 million in federal funding support

Announced by California Senator Alex Padilla, the funding is part of the Senate’s Labor, Health and Human Services appropriations bill. 

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On Thursday, Oct. 21, California Senator Alex Padilla announced that he has managed to secure more than $254 million in federal funding to support Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs).

The funding is part of the Senate’s Labor, Health and Human Services appropriations bill. 

The $254 million would represent a more than $90 million increase for HSIs compared to last year.

Of the 569 HSIs in the nation, California is home to the most with 175. With a Hispanic population of nearly 40%, the funding can go a long way toward continuing the population’s economic prosperity throughout the state. 

“Investing in HSIs is a strategic way to both enhance America’s competitiveness in the global economy and promote equity in higher education,” said Sen. Padilla in a press release.

He further stated that he understood the value of investing in higher education institutions.

“I look forward to continue working to increase funding for HSIs and ensure that institutions with a track record of success for our students can continue to thrive,” added Padilla. 

In September, Senator Padilla partnered with New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez to co-found the first-ever Senate HSI Caucus.

The goal of the caucus is to help educate more members of Congress about HSIs and to increase awareness about its presence in their respective districts and states. 

Of the $254 million funding, $226.5 million to go towards competitive grants to HSIs, representing a $77 million increase in funding from last year’s budget. 

The grants could be used for scientific or laboratory equipment, renovation of instructional facilities, development of faculty, support for academic programs and institutional management, and purchase of educational materials.

Another $27.1 million will go towards helping Latino students gain entry into and success in their graduate school programs, an increase of over $13 million compared to last year’s budget.

HSIs would be able to use the grants to support low-income students through outreach programs, academic support services, mentoring and financial assistance, procurement of scientific or laboratory equipment, facilities improvements and construction and the purchase of educational materials.  

The final $1 million will go specifically towards the HSI Equity Innovation Hub at California State University, Northridge.

The Hub was created to provide programming to transform HSIs throughout the California State University system and nation to increase student success and equip Latino and other historically underrepresented and underserved students with skills for high-demand careers in STEM.

According to a recent Pew Research Center report, Latinos represent only 8% of all STEM workers in the U.S., less than half of Latinos’ 17% total employment rate across all occupations.

Notable Lack of Funding 

This funding is critical due to the fact that funding for HSIs, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), have consistently seen an overall lack of funding. 

In Sept. 2019, the Committee on Education and Labor published a report on the importance of funding HSIs, HBCUs, TCUs and MSIs in closing the racial and wealth gaps in higher education.

“A stronger federal investment in institutions that serve low-income students and students of color will increase degree attainment, leading to improved economic prosperity and social mobility that will pay dividends for generations to come,” the report reads. 

Various organizations are working to advocate for students attending HSIs to receive the funding needed to attain ultimate academic success.

Raúl Grijalva, a Democratic Arizona state representative and a co-chair of the Congressional Hispanic-Serving Institutions Caucus, believes that now is the time to ensure these efforts are sought and resources are obtained.

“We have an opportunity here not only to advocate, but also to help design what goes forward,” Grijalva told Politico

“It's not just having a seat at the table. It is having the resources to do something with that seat,” he added. 

Various organizations have advocated for Latino college students and increased funding and resource support for HSIs, including Excelencia in Education and the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities.

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