Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Programs Providing ‘Excelencia’ in Latino Education

The Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Excelencia in Education has released its annual list of college programs and community groups that are effectively supporting the educational advancement of Latino students in higher education, or “Examples of ¡Excelencia!“ 

Here’s a look at this year’s honorees.

Pathway to the Baccalaureate Program, Northern Virginia Community College

The Pathway program at NOVA starts in high school, helping students as early as 10th grade get on track to earning a four-year college degree. The program specifically targets students who face academic, social, informational and financial barriers. 

The program’s director, Kerin Hilker-Balkissoon, told reporters at EWA’s higher education seminar last year that of the 11,000 students enrolled in Pathways, approximately 80 percent are from immigrant families, over 70 percent are or will be first-generation college students, 26 percent have a documented disability, and two-thirds are low-income. 

Nearly 90 percent who enroll in the program while still in high school go on to college and successfully graduate from NOVA or transfer to a four-year institution within three years. 

“We are really working to try to find an experience for students that will give them a broad exposure to the skills that they need not only to succeed at the two-year college level but also at the four-year college level,” Hilker-Balkissoon said. 

Bachelor of Social Work, St. Augustine College

One of three Bachelor of Social Work degree programs in Chicago, the program at St. Augustine College serves a student population that is 90 percent Latino and is the only of its kind in the Midwest with a bilingual curriculum. Courses take a unique focus on empowering the city’s Latino community through social justice

St. Augustine offers 11 degree programs — most of them at the associate level — and has the lowest tuition of all the private colleges in Chicago. According to Excelencia, the college also provides low-cost childcare, free parking and free tutoring. 

The college was also recognized by the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities in 2013 with an Outstanding Hispanic Serving Institution Award.  

Enhancing Postbaccalaureate Opportunities at CSUF for Hispanic Students (EPOCHS), California State University, Fullerton

With an overall goal to increase the number of Latino graduate degree-seekers and completers at CSU Fullerton, the EPOCHS program works to create a campus culture at the university that is welcoming to these students and supports their academic endeavors through mentoring programs, workshops, research funding and other supports during their graduate studies at the university. (The program is designed for Latino students but open to all.)

Because of EPOCHS, Excelencia writes, Hispanic enrollment in the university’s graduate degree programs increased by 400 students, 57 percent, between 2010 and 2015, while at the same time, the CSU colleges in Southern California saw an overall decline in graduate student enrollment. Two- and three-year graduation rates also improved significantly.

EPOCHS was a finalist for last year’s Examples in ¡Excelencia!

College Success Program, Barrio Logan College Institute

Barrio Logan College Institute in San Diego provides after-school programs for low-income children in elementary through high school, promoting higher education as their ticket out of poverty and also works directly with parents for at least 30 hours a year. Ninety-five percent of the 400 students participating in the program are Latino. 

The organization was founded in 1996 with a goal to curb the high dropout rates among Latino students, and since the College Success Program began in 2007, all of BLCI’s high school graduates have enrolled in colleges and universities across the country.