Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Tennessee University Answers White House ‘Call to Action’ with $12 Million

A Catholic college in Memphis, Tennessee has announced it will set aside $12 million in scholarships for immigrant students, making it the first higher education institution to answer the call for commitments to action from the White House Initiative on Education Excellence for Hispanics.

Christian Brothers University’s Latino Student Success Program is a “privately funded scholarship and loan program for Latino students who are ineligible for state and federal aid because of unknown residency status,” the Memphis Business Journal reports

In addition, the university — which has received high rankings from Forbes and U.S. News & World Report and was recently name a College of Distinction — also has the student-led Hola CBU, an organization partnered with Latino Memphis that “focuses on cultivating a robust community for Hispanic students on campus through service, education, outreach, support, and partnerships,” according to the university’s website. 

Last week, federal education officials John King, a senior advisor delegated duties of deputy secretary of education, and Alejandra Ceja, executive director of the White House initiative visited the campus to congratulate the university on its service to Latino students, who make up 6 percent of the student body. 

“In the absence of comprehensive immigration reform, this is definitely a significant commitment to action that represents a community coming together to help their future workforce,” said Ceja — who, as a side note, will be joining EWA to present at the 2015 Spanish-Language Media Convening in September — according to an article by Madeline Faber in The (Memphis) Daily News. “This is what we need other universities to be doing across the country.”

The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics will celebrate 25 years next month. As part of its “Anniversary Year of Action,” the initiative has been asking public, private and nonprofit sectors to invest in education outcomes and opportunities for Hispanic students. 

“The White House initiative was founded 25 years ago in a time of crisis; only 8 percent of Hispanic students held a bachelors degree or higher. In 2015 that figure has doubled, but there’s still a lot to be done to increase access and success rates in higher education institutions,” Faber writes. 

The $12 million will be spread across seven years and is expected to cover the tuition of 105 Hispanic students at CBU.