This week is National Hispanic-serving Institutions Week, an opportunity to celebrate Hispanic-serving Institutions that serve a critical role in improving access to education and advancing equity to underserved students.
"Today, Hispanic students make up nearly 20% of college undergraduates in the United States. They are our future leaders — the next generation of doctors and teachers, entrepreneurs and artists, first responders and scientists, elected officials and activists,” stated President Biden in the White House proclamation designating September 12-18 as National Hispanic-serving Institutions Week. “Ensuring that these young people are prepared to take on the challenges of tomorrow is critical to the future of our nation. That is why this week we celebrate Hispanic-serving Institutions, which foster cultures of belonging and respect on their campuses and offer Hispanic students a nurturing, inclusive environment to learn and grow."
At NIFA, the Hispanic-serving Institutions (HSI) Education Grants Program promotes and strengthens the ability of HSIs to carry out higher education programs to attract, retain and graduate outstanding students capable of enhancing the nation's food, agriculture, natural resources, and human sciences professional and scientific work force. This grant program aligns the efforts of HSIs to support academic development and career attainment of underrepresented groups.
The Hispanic-Serving Institutions Education Grants Program seeks to:
- Strengthen institutional educational capacities to develop and enhance curriculum, faculty, instruction delivery systems and infrastructure including libraries and scientific instrumentation, to respond and serve the needs of underrepresented students in identified state, regional, national or international educational needs in the food and agricultural sciences.
- Recruit, retain and support undergraduate and graduate students from underrepresented groups to prepare them for careers related to the food, agricultural and natural resource systems of the United States.
- Facilitate cooperative initiatives between two or more Hispanic-serving Institutions or between Hispanic-serving Institutions and the public or private sector to maximize the development and use of resources and to improve the food and agricultural sciences teaching programs.
Collaboration grants of up to $1 million for four years involve two or more Hispanic-serving Institutions working together on a common project that aims to promote and strengthen their abilities to carry out higher education programs in the food and agricultural sciences, nutrition and natural resources. The collaboration increases the cost-effectiveness of the project by achieving economies of scale and strengthening the overall scope and quality of a project’s impact. These projects must serve a minimum of 15 undergraduate and 10 graduate students from underrepresented groups. Other non-HSIs institutions can be additional partners.
At the University of California (UC), Merced, the “UC Merced FARMERS Project” aims to attract and support undergraduate and graduate students from underrepresented minority groups to prepare them for careers related to the food, agricultural and natural resources and human sciences.
At Texas A&M University, Kingsville, “GO START NOW: Getting Occupational Student Training in Agricultural Research Through Novel Workshops" seeks to empower underrepresented students through excellence in soil, animal, plant and agricultural sciences to build career skills addressing priority science areas.
“South Texas Agricultural Roadmap for Teaching, Research, Experiential Learning and Careers in Food, Agriculture” at the University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley aims to align the efforts of multiple Hispanic-serving Institutions in southern and central Texas that have ongoing programs for academic development and career attainment for underrepresented groups in fields related to sustainability in agriculture, including soil and water management, horticulture, animal science and whole farm systems.
California State University, Long Beach has launched a “Leveraging Interdisciplinary Nutritional Knowledge Program” to promote the success of underrepresented undergraduate and graduate students in the food and human sciences professional and scientific workforce, emphasizing Latino nutrition through outreach, mentoring, education, support services, research and professional internships with community partners.
Young Agri-Scientists is a collaborative program between New Mexico State University and Texas Tech University designed to increase diverse student graduates who meet the global need for the next generation of leading agricultural scientists who are as well-versed in conducting sound food, agricultural and natural resources systems and sciences research as they are in the diffusion of research and innovation through science communication.
California State University, Monterey has partnered with the University of California, Santa Cruz on the “Increased Degree Attainment in FANH Sciences: Creating a Regional Pipeline” project to promote broadening participation in sustainable agriculture education by working collaboratively to support recruitment, retention, and job placement for underrepresented students through partnerships with community colleges, community organizations, and the regional agriculture industry.
Via experiential learning in the workplace and laboratory, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras has launched “HSI: The Puerto Rico Natural Resource Career Tracks” to prepare students with tools, knowledge of basic concepts, and critical thinking necessary to address climate change impacts to agriculture and natural resources using integrated socio-environmental-technical systems approaches.
Inter American University of Puerto Rico, Barranquitas has launched “Farming for Future: Integrated Interventions to Improve Student Success and Experimental Learning in Controlled Environmental Agriculture.” The goals of the project are to attract and support undergraduate students from underrepresented groups by developing new courses in controlled environmental agriculture and to maximize the outreach potential of the project with an off-campus training facility for local communities in the form of an agricultural mobile laboratory.
Through research, internships, cross-campus student exchange and joint workshops, webinars and special experiential learning activities, students at Florida International University will acquire scientific skills analyzing crop production, farm natural resources (including soils, water, and biodiversity), and financial and social aspects of farming via the “BASE II: FIU-UTRGV-NMSU Consortium” project.
Top image: Left image of a group of students on campus. Right image of student in a computer lab. Images courtesy of Adobe Stock.