Valencia Wins $5.25 Million Hispanic Education Grant to Strengthen and Expand Educational Opportunities for Students

Valencia College was awarded a $5.25 million grant by the U.S. Department of Education this week. The funding comes from the federal Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions Program, which is designed to expand educational opportunities on campuses where Hispanics and other minorities make up a large portion of the student body.

Valencia secured the five-year federal grant with the support of Florida Congressman Alan Grayson and Sen. Bill Nelson. The first year’s funding is broken into two $525,000 awards. One will be used to increase the number of career and technical education programs at Valencia’s Osceola Campus. The other will bolster student advising on the East Campus to help more students graduate and transfer to bachelor’s degree programs.

“With Title V funding, we’ll be able to help more students achieve the dream of completing a college education, to not only better themselves but better our communities,” said Susan Ledlow, Valencia’s vice president of Academic Affairs.

Valencia has been a national leader in recognizing and meeting the educational needs of the area’s growing Hispanic community. It currently ranks fourth in the country for the number of degrees it confers on Hispanic students, and that same demographic group currently makes up half the student body on its Kissimmee campus.

Valencia’s “Got College?” initiative, which aims to increase the percentage of Osceola County high-school graduates who attend college, was recognized in September as a “Bright Spot in Hispanic Education” by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. Valencia partnered with the Education Foundation of Osceola County and the Osceola County School District on this initiative, which began in 2013.

As part of the federal grant, the college will hire 15 full-time staff including advisors, project directors, data analysts and other support personnel.

Monies from the grant will also support the following:

  • A series of Employer Summits with local business and industry leaders, where Osceola Campus school officials hope to learn what skills and training are most needed by employers. Ultimately, the goal is to help Osceola County build a highly skilled workforce while improving the economic prospects for those living in the region.
  • The purchase of new technology to allow Osceola Campus students to virtually “attend” classes offered at other Valencia campuses, providing students access to additional career and technical programs that are currently only offered in Orange County.
  • On East Campus, grant dollars will be used to expand access to advisors for students pursuing Associate in Arts degrees, improve curriculum alignment between A.A. meta majors and UCF majors, and design software that allows for early invention when students are struggling.

You can read more about the grant in the announcement by the U.S. Department of Education: