New federal funding supports student success, equity

Students looking at books
UC Santa Cruz is developing programs to help students remain in science and engineering majors, graduate on time, and secure post-college jobs that support their career objectives.

A $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education will help UC Santa Cruz improve academic and career outcomes for undergraduate students and further advance the campus's capacity to increase racial equity.

Five years of federal funding from the Title V Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI) Program will support a new project, "Graduating and Advancing New American Scholars (GANAS) - Career Pathways."

The GANAS project aims to support Latinx, low-income, and underrepresented students by removing barriers that impede their success at UC Santa Cruz and preparing them for rewarding careers once they graduate. UC Santa Cruz is developing programs to help students remain in science and engineering majors, graduate on time, and secure post-college jobs that support their career objectives.

"UC Santa Cruz attracts outstanding Latinx students from both high schools and community colleges,” said Charis Herzon, director of HSI Initiatives. “Maintaining pathways to desired majors and careers and building leadership skills are critical components of how we serve our students.”

There are four main elements in the GANAS Project: redesigning two math courses that are preventing students from continuing in life sciences majors, providing additional instruction to help students in courses critical to their major, increasing career advising and offering more career-based internships in California’s high-demand fields, and helping the campus successfully address practices or policies that are contributing to inequity.

Student with Sammy the Slug

“We are excited for the ways in which GANAS deepens our ability to be a more holistic Hispanic Serving Institution,” interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Success Jennifer Baszile said. “The HSI work is at the center of our institutional commitment to student success.”

Starting this year, UC Santa Cruz faculty, staff, and graduate student researchers will redesign the two-part calculus series Math 11A and 11B with a focus on active learning and problem-solving sessions to support inclusiveness and equity. The comprehensive overhaul is meant to increase course grades and passing rates and reduce achievement gaps. The plan is to offer a redesigned Math 11A in fall 2021 and Math 11B in fall 2022.

The campus this year will create a team of student leaders who will provide supplemental instruction to students who are struggling in courses critical to their major. In addition to helping students continue with their chosen major, the program will support students in developing their leadership skills.

To increase career advising, internship opportunities, and financial literacy of Latinx, low-income, and underrepresented students, UC Santa Cruz will develop year-long career-based internships that focus on California’s workforce needs across biotech, health, agriculture, accounting/finance, teaching/education, and STEM. Interns will also take a career readiness/financial literacy course and participate in quarterly career advising sessions.

The final goal is to support academic and student services departments in identifying racial disparities, developing ways to address practices or policies that are contributing to inequity, and evaluating whether the changes are successful in increasing equity.

The GANAS Career Pathways Project is a campus partnership that includes UCSC HSI Initiatives, Career Center, Center for Innovations in Teaching & Learning, Educational Opportunity Programs, Learning Support Services, and the Mathematics Department.

Enrollment of Latinx undergraduate students at UC Santa Cruz crossed the 25 percent threshold to be considered a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) by the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities in 2012. Since then, the campus has been awarded four grants totaling $12.8 million since earning the HSI designation.