White House Recognizes UC Riverside as a Bright Spot in Hispanic Education

White House Initiative on Educational Excellence chooses 230 examples of commitment to improve the educational attainment of Hispanics.

Family pride shows at an event celebrating 2015 commencement. photo by Carrie Rosema

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) – The University of California, Riverside has been recognized by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics as a Bright Spot in Hispanic education. The announcement was made Sept. 15, 2015 at the launch of Hispanic Heritage Month and in honor of the Initiative’s 25th anniversary in Washington, D.C.

As a Bright Spot, UC Riverside is part of a national online catalog that includes over 230 programs that invest in key education priorities for Hispanics. In two separate entries, the university is being honored for its student success efforts with the College of Natural and Agricultural Science’s freshman learning communities, as well as for its ethnic parity in campus graduation rates. It is rare to have very little gap between students of different ethnicities.

Established in 1990, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics seeks to address the educational disparities faced by the Hispanic community. It works to leverage these Bright Spots to encourage collaboration between stakeholders focused on similar issues in sharing data-driven approaches, promising practices, peer advice, and effective partnerships, ultimately resulting in increased support for the educational attainment of the Hispanic community, from cradle-to-career said Alejandra Ceja, Executive Director of the Initiative on Tuesday. Nearly one in four students in our nation’s public schools is a Hispanic youth, she said.

Commencement stoles celebrate Hispanic heritage. photo by Carrie Rosema

Commencement stoles celebrate Hispanic heritage.
photo by Carrie Rosema

Michael McKibben, divisional dean of student academic affairs in UCR’s College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, oversees a student success program that received special mention.  “We have taken a look at results and our first year learning communities have boosted grade point averages and retention so much that we are now seeing twice as many science students, including Hispanic students, staying and graduating from the college,” McKibben said.

Prior to the establishment of the learning communities, overall graduation rates in CNAS were 28 percent after four years and 36 percent after six years. Since the learning communities were created, graduation rates have increased to nearly 50 percent after four years and 65 percent after six years for those students who complete the learning communities. The increased rates hold equally true for underrepresented minority and non-underrepresented students.

On a larger scale, UCR’s graduation rates are better than the national average. The national six-year graduation rate is 41 percent for Latinos and is 50 percent for Whites, resulting in a nine percent graduation gap. However, at UCR, there is virtually no graduation gap – in fact, graduation rates from 2004-2012 show that Hispanic students graduated at a higher rate than White students – three percent higher. The suite of academic and advising programs targeted at low-income, first-generation students that UCR provides, its campus-wide commitment to student success, and a culture that accepts and encourages minority participation at all levels of campus life creates a positive learning environment for our students.

Ceja said the future of our nation is closely connected to the future of our Hispanic communities. “When we create more ladders of opportunity, we provide the chance for all Americans to reach their greatest potential,” Ceja explained. “It’s integral for these young people to not only have the opportunity to achieve their dreams, but that it’s also a matter of our shared success as a country.

To learn more about the Initiative and to view the Bright Spots in Hispanic Education national online catalog visit www.ed.gov/hispanicinitiative.


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