Press "Enter" to skip to content

UIW awarded major grant to support first-generation and Hispanic students

Grant will be used to establish the ‘Somos Unidos — One Word Project’

SAN ANTONIO –The University of the Incarnate Word (UIW) has announced that it has been awarded a grant from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) for a Student Success Acceleration Program in the amount of $180,000.

The grant will be used to establish the “Somos Unidos — One Word Project” which will accelerate mentor training and knowledge to support first-generation and minority students and develop mentor cultural competency. These learning experiences will provide opportunities through dialogue with faculty, staff and students. Creating a sense of belonging for our students and methods to help students develop confidence and their own voices to strengthen retention rates amongst first-generation and Hispanic students.

“The funding from this THECB grant is different in that it will support learning experiences for all students and parents, especially first-generation and Hispanic, and professional development for faculty and staff,” says Dr. Monica Ayala Jimenez, associate provost of student success. “UIW is a Hispanic Serving Institution and is dedicated to intentionally serving our Hispanic students. The “Somos Unidos — One Word Project” will build “communidad” through experiences designed to bring other first-generation and Hispanic students and their parents together to build a sense of belonging and create validating experiences.”

According to Jimenez, this project has established goals to ensure UIW’s Mission as a social justice Catholic institution is holding up its promise to those students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds and first-generation families. The “Somos Unidos — One Word Project” seeks to raise the UIW retention rate of First Time in College (FTIC) students to the institutional goal of 75 percent and close the gap each semester between these underserved populations and all other groups combined.

The project will seek to accomplish three goals:

  • Establish the foundation of a virtual first-generation center to increase knowledge of evidence-based practices for serving first-generation, Hispanic and other minority students through professional development for faculty and staff.
  • Expand support to first-generation students and parents through workshops and interactive learning experiences designed to build a sense of belonging and through an “I am first-generation” asset-based messaging campaign. Additional support will be provided for first-generation and Hispanic students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.
  • Accelerate mentor training and faculty/staff knowledge to further develop mentor cultural competency of Hispanic and minority students.

The “Somos Unidos – One Word Project” will begin its efforts when the grant is received by December 1. All activities will occur between December 1 and Sept. 30, 2023.

UIW first-generation students take part in campus celebration on November 8.