The cash-strapped City College of San Francisco is now eligible to apply for one of the largest sources of federal grant money, after establishing that more than a quarter of its students are Hispanic.
The Developing Hispanic Serving Institute program from the Department of Education bestows grant money each fiscal year to higher level institutions that can prove that their student body is 25 percent Hispanic or Latino.
Last month the Department of Education sent a letter to City College officials recognizing the college as a Hispanic Serving Institute, capping off a year-long process of data collection on the student population, according to school officials.
City college surpassed the minimum requirement with a Hispanic student population of 26.4 percent. That number is only expected to grow, according to Chancellor Mark Rocha, who is also City College’s first Hispanic Chancellor.
“What that means is that there are millions of dollars out there right now we can apply for,” said City College Board of Trustees President Alex Randolph said at a public meeting.
Grants awarded to eligible colleges are focused on expanding educational opportunities, academic offerings and program quality for Hispanic students, according to the program guidelines published by the Department of Education.
However, Dr. David Ortiz, senior vice president of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities says that everyone benefits from the additional funding.
The grant money could be utilized by City College to build new buildings, libraries and laboratories for students, according to Randolph.
“One of the things we could potentially do is apply for grants to help with tutoring or counseling, there is a whole new revenue source that not only benefits Hispanic students but every single student that goes to City College,” said Randolph.
“We know that HSI’s are at the forefront of creating a pipeline of social and economic mobility for the underserved low-income students,” said Ortiz.
However, while additional funds would be a welcome relief given City College’s looming budget deficit, the growing number of HSI’s being recognized in the nation is creating a very crowded and competitive field for the grant money.
San Francisco State University, the only other HSI in the city, has been eligible and recognized by the Department of Education since 2016 and has received zero dollars in funding, according to Mary Kenny, a university spokesperson.
“While there has been a rapid increase in the number of HSI’s across the country, federal funding has not kept up growth, which makes it competitive to receive grants as an HSI,” said Kenny.
City College is eligible to apply for grants that will be announced by the end of this month, and if successful the school can expect to receive funds for the spring 2020 semester.