US Department of Education awards NEIU millions in grant

September 27, 2016

NEIU has announced that it is the recipient of a $2.6 million award from the U.S. Department of Education.

The institution will receive $525,000 per year for the next five years, beginning Oct. 1.

“The primary focus of this grant is to implement a very comprehensive system of support to increase retention into the third year for our full-time freshman,” said Dr. Wendy Stack, director of the Center for College Access and Success. “Receiving this grant at this time is really timely for Northeastern because we’re experiencing the largest freshman class in three years. It’s pretty exciting to get it now.”

The grant is an individual development award and part of the USDOE’s Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions program. NEIU was eligible to apply for the grant due to its status as a federally designated Hispanic-Serving Institution, designated on the basis of an at least 25 percent Hispanic undergraduate population.

The DHSI program “provides grants to assist HSIs to expand educational opportunities for, and improve the attainment of, Hispanic students. These grants also enable HSIs to expand and enhance their academic offerings, program quality, and institutional stability,” according to the USDOE website.

Of the 23 individual development awards designated in 2016, NEIU was the only institution in Illinois to be selected as a recipient. The award was granted after a national competitive process amongst hundreds of applications from many different HSIs (which have been increasing in number in recent years).  A written proposal was made, meeting USDOE guidelines, and then scored.

NEIU’s grant proposal was written by CCAS, formally known as the Chicago Teachers’ Center. CCAS was restructured and renamed three years ago to strengthen the high school to college pipeline, helping high school students become more college-ready, and to increase grant revenue for the university.

The grant proposal made a case as to why the institution needs the funding, how the money will be used, how programming will be implemented, and the probable effectiveness of the proposed programming, based on research.

While NEIU’s  status as an HSI determined its eligibility, the grant serves all students.

The proposed system of support is focused on “taking our freshmen all the way through, to the third year (of college), as well as to graduation,” Stack said. “This funding will really allow us to implement a number of things to make sure that happens.”

A crucial component to the support system  is early alert . The early alert system will make early intervention possible on the part of advisers, faculty and staff and increase referrals to the learning support center. According to Stack, timely data will be provided to alert them “every time a student makes a choice that could put him or her off-track for graduation.”

This recent grant is the latest evidence of progress being made on the part of NEIU’s CCAS campus to initiate additional support for students and ensure their successful degree completion.

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