Goal of Latino achievement program: ‘Get students across the finish line’

By Staff

Goal of Latino achievement program: ‘Get students across the finish line’
Building pathways for Latinos to enter college and graduate is the goal of a partnership between the University of Colorado Denver and the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF).

CU Denver and HSF officials signed a memorandum of understanding on Oct. 28 that is intended to foster recruitment and retention practices at CU Denver and leverage the strengths of both organizations in supporting Latino achievement.

“Our goal is to put a degree in every Latino household,” said Frank Alvarez, president and CEO of HSF.

The HSF is a national organization that provides scholarships for Latino students. It serves as a national voice advocating the importance of higher education to both Hispanic and non-Hispanic students.

CU Denver is only the second university in the nation -- the University of Georgia being the other -- to have an operational partnership with HSF. This partnership allows HSF to support recruiting students into the university and continuing to work with them to ensure they stay on target for graduation.

Alvarez signed the documents along with Provost Rod Nairn, who said the partnership dovetails with the university's strategic enrollment objectives.

Operating HSF's program on the CU Denver campus will be Nancy Hernandez, whose office is in the North Classroom.

Janet Lopez, director of CU Denver's P-20 Education Initiatives, said, "This is really making official what's been a partnership for a long time between HSF and CU Denver. The model of HSF is both one of access, but then there has to be the operational support piece, and that's the important part of what Nancy will do. It's scholarships, but then it's also supporting the student once they arrive to actually persist and graduate."

Alvarez said HSF can provide services, such as its mentorship programs, that augment the innovative work already being done for Latino student advancement by CU Denver.

"Our goal is to get people across that finish line," he said. "That finish line is what you guys (at CU Denver) are holding, and we want to work together with you. We can build the pipeline and they get here and don't finish. So you need the system to get them through. If you get them over, push them over the freshman year, then you have a better chance."

Raul Cardenas, associate vice chancellor for student affairs, said the partnership is exciting and will bolster the university's steadily growing Latino enrollment. "These are all important, critical parts to making sure that we maximize all the resources that are available to us," Cardenas said.

In each of the past four academic years, CU Denver has had 15 HSF Scholarship recipients.

"We want to augment the work you're doing so that when they graduate from CU Denver we take as much pride in them as you do," Alvarez said.

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