National Louis University and Morton Community College Awarded $3.6 Million Grant to Increase Enrollment and Graduation of Hispanic Students in Chicago and Cicero

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The U.S. Department of Education awarded National Louis University (NLU) and Morton College a $3.6 million Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI) grant for Project CREST (CoenRollmEnt for STem), a partnership with the goal of increasing Hispanic enrollment and graduation in technology programs.

The U.S. Department of Education awarded National Louis University (NLU) and Morton College a $3.6 million Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI) grant for Project CREST (CoenRollmEnt for STem), a partnership with the goal of increasing Hispanic enrollment and graduation in technology programs. The HSI grant is designed to support colleges and universities in the United States by assisting first-generation, majority low-income Hispanic students. NLU and Morton College are both Hispanic-serving institutions, with 25% or more of the institutions’ undergraduate population identifying as being of Hispanic origin.

Project CREST is designed to successfully support and graduate first-generation Hispanic college attendees in the Chicago and Cicero communities. Approximately 21.5% of Chicagoans are Hispanic, and 89.6% of Cicero’s population is Hispanic. In Cicero, the Hispanic graduation rate suggests that only 10% of the adult population older than age 25 has completed a bachelor’s degree.

Through Project CREST, the partner institutions will focus on enhanced recruitment of the underrepresented Hispanic population into Science Technology Engineering Math (STEM) and Computer Information Sciences (CIS) programs, working with Chicago, Cicero and its surrounding communities and current community college students. The partner institutions will offer intensive student support and a dedicated success coach, tutoring focused on STEM courses, summer bridge experiences using a cultural sustainability model to develop students’ identity and capacity as academic readers and writers, and professional development for faculty and staff on serving diverse students.

With this comprehensive approach, CREST expects to reach the following goals:

  • Increase enrollment of Hispanic students into computer science degree pathways.
  • Increase retention and graduation. Specifically, increase year-to-year student retention to 80% in computer information science degree pathways at community colleges and NLU.
  • Increase graduation rates to 80% within 3 years at community colleges.
  • Increase faculty and staff understanding and use of culturally relevant teaching strategies and coaching by 20%.

“National Louis is grounded in its mission of providing a path to higher education access for minority students,” said Nivine Megahed, Ph.D., president of National Louis. “In partnership with Morton College, I am confident that we will increase the graduation rates of Hispanic students in Chicago and Cicero, providing them with added life opportunities and the empowerment to make important contributions to the Chicagoland community.”

“Morton College is proud to partner with National Louis University to implement the Co-enrollment STEM(CREST) program through the U.S. Department of Education's Hispanic Serving Institution STEM and Articulation Grant Program,” said Stan Fields, Ph.D., Morton College President. “Receiving this grant represents an opportunity to build on that partnership and introduce more of the Morton College students to serve in a field with limited minority representation.”

For more information about community impact partnerships at National Louis, visit http://www.nl.edu/about/partnerships/, and for more about Morton College’s work in this area go to http://www.morton.edu.

About National Louis University
Founded in 1886, National Louis is a nonprofit, non-denominational University offering bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in fields of education, management, human services, counseling, public policy, and others concerned with human and community development. From its inception, National Louis has provided educational access to adult, immigrant and minority populations – a mission it sustains today. National Louis is well-known for an exceptional history in teacher preparation, and continues to be a leader in educating future teachers and community leaders to succeed in urban environments. For more information, visit http://www.nl.edu.

About Morton College
Founded in 1924 to meet the educational demands in the growing communities of Berwyn, Cicero, Forest View, Lyons, McCook, Stickney and other near-western suburbs, Morton College is the second oldest community college in Illinois. Its mission is to enhance the quality of life of its diverse community through exemplary teaching and learning opportunities, community service, and life-long learning. Morton College is governed by a locally elected Board of Trustees and is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. For more information on Morton College, visit http://www.morton.edu.

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Kellie Kennedy
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