UCF has been selected for two, five-year U.S. Department of Education (ED) Title V grants totaling $5.7 million to reduce barriers for Hispanic/Latino/a/x students earning undergraduate and graduate degrees, while enriching learning experiences for their development of career and cultural competencies — aligning with the university’s priority to support student success and well-being.
Title V grants enable Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) to expand educational opportunities for, and improve the academic attainment of, Hispanic students. They also enable HSIs to expand and enhance their academic offerings, program quality and institutional stability — benefiting students of all backgrounds. These grants are among the most significant support resources for HSIs, an ED designation UCF earned in 2019 and that is currently held by 559 institutions across the U.S., District of Colombia, and Puerto Rico.
One grant funds a project focused on overall Hispanic/Latino/a/x student success at the undergraduate level. Another grant supports dedicated efforts to bolster Hispanic/Latino/a/x enrollment in and graduation from nursing graduate programs. Cyndia Muñiz ’13EdD, UCF’s director of Hispanic Serving Institution Initiatives and Partnerships, is project director for both efforts.
“I could not be prouder of our collective achievement in reaching this important milestone on our HSI journey,” says Muñiz. “I look forward to the transformative work ahead as we continue to promote and advance an institutional culture of ‘servingness’ that empowers our students to unleash their potencial.”
With nearly $3 million in funding through the Developing Hispanic Serving Institutions Program, Project POTENCIAL (Promoting Opportunities that Enhance Navigation, Completion, Inclusion, and Learning) will work to expand and enhance institutional capacity to increase timely graduation rates for Hispanic and low-income students, thus driving their social mobility.
“Helping all our students unleash their potential and progress to graduate is a paramount strategic goal for UCF,” says Michael D. Johnson, UCF’s provost and executive vice president of Academic Affairs. “We are grateful for these grants that underscore the significance of being a designated Hispanic Serving Institution.”
“I look forward to the transformative work ahead as we continue to promote and advance an institutional culture of ‘servingness’ that empowers our students to unleash their potencial.” — Cyndia Muñiz ’13EdD, UCF’s director of Hispanic Serving Institution Initiatives and Partnerships
Several High-Impact Practice initiatives will be created through the effort to engage students of all backgrounds. A High-Impact Practice Scholars program will provide Hispanic/Latino/a/x transfer students and those from low-income backgrounds with paid employment opportunities and assistance with internship placements. These offerings will include paid nonprofit internship experiences, which will allow students to give back to the local community, as well as peer coaching positions to help students navigate and connect with campus resources. By the second year of the program, the first 30 students will be accepted.
UCF will also increase its High-Impact Course Designations, which provide students opportunities to excel in and out of the classroom through four focus areas. These include service learning, which involves students in activities to address student needs; integrative-learning experiences, which connect the core knowledge and skills of their major to real-world professional and civic contexts; research-intensive, during which students actively learn about the research process under the guidance of a faculty member; and global learning, during which students develop intercultural competencies through analysis of symbiotic, international systems and their impacts on humanity.
Last year, about 15,000 UCF students took at least one high-impact course. With this Title V investment, UCF will find gaps in course offerings across disciplines at the university so more students are able to benefit from these curriculum enhancements.
“POTENCIAL is providing us an opportunity to reach new students to share opportunities for them to engage in High-Impact Practices that will benefit them at UCF and in the real world as they pursue their careers or graduate education,” Kimberly Schneider, assistant vice provost for the Division of Student Learning and Academic Success.
POTENCIAL funding will also support faculty development opportunities and the Office for Latino Student Success through the Ginsburg Center for Inclusion and Community Engagement. The center was established earlier this year to expand UCF’s ability to be a welcoming campus for all by fostering inclusion, building cross-cultural and global competencies, and serving the local community through a $5 million gift from the Ginsburg Family Foundation.
It will also support student success coaching through ConeXiones, a program established by UCF Connect in 2020, to intentionally engage Hispanic transfer students, provide them with a seamless transition experience and promote their academic success. These efforts will be enhanced through a variety of culturally responsive and equity-minded student success strategies to meet the needs of more students.
Through POTENCIAL, UCF aims to accomplish the following by 2027:
- Increase participation of Hispanic transfer and low-income students in internships and undergraduate research by 5%
- Increase the number of Hispanic low-income first-time-in-college and transfer students graduating in four years and two years respectively by 5%
- Increase the percentage of Hispanic students expressing a “great sense of belonging” at UCF by 15%
- Increase the number of faculty participating in professional development by 525%
A $2.7 million Title V grant will be used to fund a project aimed at increasing Hispanic/Latino/a/x representation in nursing graduate programs at UCF through 2027. Through Project ENFERMERIA (Educating Nurses for Engagement, Research, Mentoring Excellence & Reinforcing Interpretation Access), UCF will equip more Hispanic/Latino/a/x nurses to provide culturally congruent care and meet the language needs of the Central Florida region. The funding is part of ED’s Promoting Postbaccalaureate Opportunities for Hispanic Americans Program.
“UCF is extremely proud to be recognized by the Department of Education as worthy of receiving two Title V grants aimed at strengthening infrastructure and ‘servingness’ at Hispanic Serving Institutions,” Andrea Guzmán, vice president of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. “These funds will allow us to expand efforts that support Hispanic/Latina/o/x student success and strategically address the critical nursing shortage of our state and nation.”
Less than 6% of nurses — which is the most popular healthcare profession in the nation — are Hispanic/Latino/a/x, despite individuals of these backgrounds accounting for 18.5% of the U.S. population. As the nation faces a nursing shortage, Hispanic communities are already often underserved in healthcare. Project ENFERMERIA and other efforts at UCF aim to address this issue.
“The importance of this funding is twofold. … It provides power of change and impactful implementation within the healthcare setting.” — Desiree Díaz, UCF nursing faculty and an activity coordinator on Project ENFERMERIA.
“The importance of this funding is twofold,” says Desiree Díaz, an activity coordinator on the grant, who is UCF College of Nursing’s Undergraduate Simulation coordinator and an associate professor. “It provides an opportunity to enhance the knowledge and background of nurses in relation to healthcare disparities and social determinants of health that impact the communities in which the students live and work, while speaking to the need to increase the representation of trained medical interpreters within healthcare settings to mitigate these issues. It provides power of change and impactful implementation within the healthcare setting.”
Project ENFERMERIA includes 12 project activities across four areas including enrollment, faculty recruitment, curriculum expansion and holistic support. Enrollment efforts involve holding Spanish information sessions for nursing graduate programs and a holistic admissions workshop that will provide nursing graduate faculty with the tools to evaluate work and life experience when considering and admitting quality students, beyond GPA. A National Association of Hispanic Nurses chapter will also be launched at UCF.
Faculty recruitment initiatives include creating Endowed Faculty Excellence Awards in Hispanic Healthcare, providing increased financial incentive for Hispanic adjuncts and clinical faculty, hosting workshops for strategies for recruiting diverse healthcare educators and increasing the number of Hispanic/Latino/a/x graduate nursing students in the Preparing Tomorrow’s Faculty program out of the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning. This program will seek faculty from diverse backgrounds to provide student support, mentorship and coaching.
To expand curriculum, two new courses, Healthcare Delivery for Hispanic Populations and Exploring Healthcare Disparities and Social Determinants of Health, will be offered. The former is a hybrid course that will teach learners common terms used by the Hispanic/Latino/a/x population, proper patient interaction and culturally congruent care. The latter will be offered online and allow learners to understand the social causes of healthcare disparities while exploring ways to mitigate poor health outcomes through research and community participatory mechanisms. These two courses plus a practicum in healthcare simulation will combine to create a new Hispanic Serving Healthcare Professionals certificate program. The certificate will prepare Spanish-speaking learners through 40 hours of simulation or community training to sit for the national healthcare interpreter certification exam with a deeper understanding of culturally congruent care in relation to the Hispanic/Latino/a/x population.
Through these activities, the project aims for 75% of UCF graduates from nursing graduate certificates, MSN, and doctoral programs, to receive some benefit of career advancement, such as change in job responsibilities or increased salary, by 2025. Starting in 2024, an annual increase of 10% of Hispanic nursing students enrolled in the graduate programs is expected.
Success will also be measured through the following objectives, which should be complete by 2027:
- 80% of nursing faculty, staff and administrators will have participated in holistic admissions/culturally-aware-responsive mentoring training workshops
- 100% of all graduate applications will be reviewed following established holistic protocols
- There will be a 10% increase in the number of Hispanic faculty members, tenure-track, and adjunct/clinical preceptor positions
- The Hispanic MSN three-year graduation rate will have increased to 60%
- The Hispanic doctoral (DNP and Ph.D.) five-year graduation rate will have increased to 30%
- The average number of UCF Hispanic postbaccalaureate BSN graduates entering the healthcare workforce will triple from recent averages
Project ENFERMERIA also aligns with UCF’s recent HSI partnership with Bank of America and EAB to increase the number of Hispanic/Latina/o/x healthcare students that can provide Spanish-speaking, culturally proficient care.