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Napa Valley College receives $5 million grant to increase STEM degrees among Latinx students

Napa Valley College (NVC) has been awarded nearly $5 million in a five-year grant to increase the number of Latinx and low-income students earning degrees in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and to build model transfer agreements between two-year and four-year colleges in those areas, Oscar De Haro, assistant superintendent/vice president for student affairs announced today.

The grant comes from the U.S. Department of Education’s Hispanic-Serving Institutions – Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics (HSI-STEM) and Articulation Program and will provide just under $1 million in the first year, which began October 1, 2021. The grant is expected to provide similar amounts annually through the 2025-2026 academic year.

“I am so proud of our team and happy for our students who will benefit from these funds,” De Haro said. “We’ll be able to put into place innovative advising and support structures to help overcome weaknesses that we’ve identified through ongoing assessment and analysis. These high-impact practices will have a measurable effect on the success of our highly diverse student population.”

Luis Alcázar, associate dean for MESA and STEM Program Services, led the effort to secure funding for NVC’s program, dubbed “Cultivamos con Cariño (“Cultivate with Love/Affection/Care”) program. In an email to colleagues announcing the grant, Alcázar outlined the program’s goals, including:  To increase STEM and computer science enrollment, retention and persistence rates of Latinx and low-income students; to improve STEM articulation with four-year universities and increase STEM transfer rates of Latinx and low-income students to four-year universities; to increase the number of Latinx and low-income STEM students participating in internships and research experiences; and, on the staff side, to increase the number of STEM faculty and staff who participate in professional development focused on culturally responsive pedagogy and culturally responsive co-curricular practices.

“In layperson’s terms, we want to better cultivate the STEM identity and sense of belonging of Latinx and low-income STEM students at NVC, so much so that they persist through their two years at NVC and go on to either a four-year STEM program or a good job in a high-demand STEM industry,” Alcázar said.

“Some of the ways we plan to do that include improving the STEM student onboarding process for STEM students who need it most, increasing our STEM academic advising capacity by adding a bilingual STEM counselor, developing a STEM peer-mentoring program, increasing our capacity to offer more STEM internships and research experiences on-campus and with industry partners, and working to articulate more STEM courses with our university partners to ensure that the classes students take here will transfer seamlessly to the four-year college of their choice.”

The STEM grant is the fourth HSI grant that Napa Valley College has received since 2005. About 44 percent of NVC students identify as Latinx. For more on the HSI STEM grant program, visit the U.S. Dept. of Education.

About the HSI Grant Program
The U.S. Department of Education’s Developing HSI Program (DHSI) provides grants to make college more attainable for Hispanic students and allows institutions to enhance their academic offerings, program quality and institutional stability. The grants assist schools in furthering educational opportunities for students through faculty development, curriculum development, academic tutoring and mentoring, and other services.

About Napa Valley College
Napa Valley College prepares students for evolving roles in a diverse, dynamic, and interdependent world. The college is an accredited open-access, degree- and certificate-granting institution that is committed to student achievement through high-quality programs and services that are continuously evaluated and improved. The college serves students and the community in the following areas: transfer courses, career-technical education and training, basic skills, and self-supporting contract education and community education classes. Napa Valley College is located at 2277 Napa-Vallejo Highway in Napa. Learn more at napavalley.edu.

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