$2.4 million grant will benefit Gavilan students

Steve Kinsella

It’s a happy day for local community college students: Gavilan just got a hefty chunk of money from the government that will help streamline the process of getting a four-year degree in nursing, computer science or digital media at California State University, Monterey Bay.

Gavilan College has been selected to receive its third federal Title V grant next year – a scenario college President Steve Kinsella likens to winning “the triple crown of federal grants,” as this marks the third Title V grant that’s been awarded to Gavilan College within the last 18 months. The federal Title V program is aimed at assisting local education reform efforts.

The $3.75 million grant has been collectively awarded to Gavilan College in Gilroy, Hartnell College in Salinas and CSU Monterey Bay. The three institutions will collaborate to develop and strengthen nursing, computer science and digital media Career Technical Education (CTE) programs at Gavilan and Hartnell; thus making the transfer pathways to CSUMB more efficient. Of the $3.75 million, $2.4 million will be spent at Gavilan College, with the remaining balance to be spent at Hartnell and CSUMB.

The money will help address the low attainment of degrees in career technical fields, particularly among Hispanic students, according to a press release sent out by college spokeswoman Jan Bernstein-Chargin.

Gavilan and Hartnell will partner with CSUMB in a collaborative project aimed at making the transfer and degree completion process less of a complicated maze, and more of a success story.

The overarching goal is to increase not only student transfers from Gavilan and Hartnell to CSUMB, but also career completion and success rates, Bernstein-Chargin explained.

“When you take a lot of the guesswork out of transferring, that increases their chances of transferring successfully and completing their degrees once they transfer,” she said. “We want to make sure that programs are designed so that all coursework at community college level transfers, so students don’t have to repeat courses when they transfer…they may even get an early introduction to CSU Monterey Bay.”

The idea, she explained, is to develop a “really clear transfer pathway” that becomes the foundation for the first two years of a four-year degree, which in turn will encourage students to transfer to CSUMB and complete their studies.

While Gavilan has received federal Title V grants in the past, Bernstein-Chargin says it’s “unusual these three all came so close together.”

“This is sort of like winning the triple crown of federal grants; rare and noteworthy when it occurs,” wrote Kinsella via email.

Gavilan’s last two federal Title V grants were for Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics and improving student success through a focus on the first year in college. Together with the new CTE grant, Kinsella says the influx of grant money is helping to offset lost revenue from recent state budget cuts.

The newest $3.75 million grant – to be doled over a period of five years – is one of 19 awarded by the United States Department of Education for the purpose of strengthening and expanding educational opportunities for Hispanic students.

While the grant money is targeted toward Hispanic-serving institutions like Gavilan – which serves a 2,700-square-mile territory between South Santa Clara and San Benito counties with a Hispanic population of 57 percent – “it helps all students at Gavilan and Hartnell, whether they are Hispanic or not,” noted Bernstein-Chargin.

How Gavilan students benefit

The money will go toward improving institutional management by increasing the quality and quantity of data available to evaluate and improve the CTE transfer pathway, in addition to training faculty and students to track student outcomes.

The five-year funding stream will also enhance fiscal stability by providing services to more CTE transfer pathway students at no additional operating costs, the press release states.

The grant addresses the need to improve college completion rates for Hispanic students, particularly in CTE fields. Research has shown that CTE is the “road not traveled to degree completion by students who need it most: Hispanic and low-income,” according to the press release.

At a time when community college resources are in high demand by increasing numbers of students seeking CTE training, Gavilan and Hartnell have both faced significant state budget reductions in recent years. The grant project will significantly improve the efficiency of the CTE program at both community colleges, according to the press release.

“I think when you look at those institutions that were awarded nationally, it is outstanding that we were recognized for the innovative ideas of our faculty by receiving three awards in 18 months,” said Kathleen Rose, Executive Vice President and Chief Instructional Officer at Gavilan. “It demonstrates a level of confidence in Gavilan’s ability to answer the national trends in higher education’s agenda on a local level.”

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