New effort to increase success of Black, Latino and Indigenous adult learners

East Campus at dawn

Seeking to identify and address barriers facing Black, Latino and Indigenous adult learners, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities and the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities today announced a grant to the University of Illinois Chicago supporting a university-community partnership aimed at leveraging the assets of these adult learners.

“This grant will enable UIC to create the new Professional and Leadership Development Program, which engages adult learners in programming that recognizes and builds off of their unique strengths,” said Sue Farruggia, principal investigator and assistant vice chancellor for assessment and planning in UIC Student Affairs. “The program will also encourage adult learners to apply to the new Flames Internship Grant, a program that provides funding for students to participate in unpaid internships.”

UIC will develop a partnership with Harold Washington College to create a pathway for Black, Latino and Indigenous adult learners to participate in professional programs, such as résumé writing, career exploration, changing careers, and balancing parenting and career; leadership programs, such as navigating change, addressing imposter syndrome, and leadership and self-reflection; and internship opportunities. All Harold Washington College adult learners will participate in at least two leadership and two professional development programs each semester.

Allen Womble, associate director in the Center for Student Involvement, and Jean Riordan, executive director of UIC Career Services, are co-principal investigators on the grant.

“Black, Latino/x and Indigenous adult learners have an extraordinary set of assets, and we’re thrilled to work with our institutions to address barriers they face to accessing and completing a bachelor’s degree,” said Christel Perkins, assistant vice president at APLU and deputy executive director of USU. “These grants will help institutions develop and expand partnerships with community organizations to create an ecosystem harnessing the wealth of experiences and assets these adult learners embody.”

Seven other institutions are also receiving grants to undertake similar projects. Each institution will partner with a local organization, such as an employer, to build an ecosystem for helping Black, Latino and Indigenous learners thrive. Additionally, institutions will critically examine their advising, enrollment and reenrollment practices, and student support services to identify and eliminate barriers facing students. Lumina Foundation is funding the effort.

The other seven institutions receiving grants are: California State University, Fresno; California State University, Los Angeles; the University of Colorado Denver; Florida International University; University of Memphis; University of New Orleans; and Portland State University.

APLU is a research, policy and advocacy organization dedicated to strengthening and advancing the work of public universities in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. With a membership of 244 public research universities, land-grant institutions, state university systems, and affiliated organizations, APLU’s agenda is built on the three pillars of increasing degree completion and academic success, advancing scientific research and expanding engagement. Annually, member campuses enroll 5 million undergraduates and 1.3 million graduate students, award 1.3 million degrees, employ 1.3 million faculty and staff, and conduct $49.2 billion in university-based research.