UIC awarded $1.5 million for Asian American student initiative

Asian American and Pacific Islander undergraduate studentsThe University of Illinois at Chicago has received a five-year, $1.5 million grant to boost academic and social support services for Asian American and Pacific Islander undergraduate students.

The grant, from the U.S. Department of Education’s Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution program, will fund supplemental tutoring, academically-integrated mentorship and internship opportunities with on- and off-campus partners.

UIC is the only Midwest grantee among the 10 institutions selected for the latest round of funding. Since 2010, UIC has received three federal grants totaling $5.6 million to serve this segment of students.

“The latest funding builds on the successes of both previous grants to provide more academic tutoring as well as mentorship for students through Asian American studies curriculum and the Asian American Mentor Program,” said Karen Su, principal investigator for the grant, which will establish the UIC Pipeline for Asian American and Pacific Islander Student Success (UIC PASS).

The first Department of Education grant totaled $2.1 million since 2010 and led to the Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution Initiative at UIC, for which Su is also principal investigator/project director.  That award, which concludes later this month, has enhanced the Asian American studies program and the Asian American Resource and Cultural Center, and funded research on the experiences of Asian American and Pacific Islander undergraduates at UIC.

The second grant, received in 2011, totaled $2 million and runs through next September. It supports programs in academic and writing skills development, college preparation, career advancement and financial aid.

“Many of UIC’s Asian American and Pacific Islander students are English language learners, children of immigrants, first-generation college students, and low-income,” said Su, clinical assistant professor of Asian American studies. “These grants provide significant resources for the university’s ongoing support of at-risk students in key areas such as recruitment, retention and graduation.”

To be eligible for funds through the Department of Education’s program, an institution must be a designated Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-serving institution and its undergraduate enrollment must be at least 10 percent Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander at the time of submission. In addition, at least half of the institution’s degree-seeking students must be eligible to receive federal Pell grants.

This fall, more than 22 percent of UIC’s undergraduates identify as either Asian American or Native American Pacific Islander, and about half of its undergraduates are Pell grant recipients.

“UIC’s status as a national leader among urban, public higher education institutions in providing access and programs for underserved students is further enhanced by the Department of Education’s latest funding,” said Tyrone Forman, associate chancellor and vice provost for diversity.

UIC is federally recognized as a Minority Serving Institution through its status as a funded Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution.

The UIC Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of Asian Americans will hold a town hall meeting Oct. 15 at 3 p.m. in Student Services Building, Rooms B and C, 1200 W. Harrison St., to discuss the impact of the previous grants and look ahead to initiatives under the new grant.

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