New Center Seeks to Boost Knowledge, Interest in Hispanic-Serving Institutions - Higher Education
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New Center Seeks to Boost Knowledge, Interest in Hispanic-Serving Institutions


by Charles Dervarics

Seeking to address a gap in knowledge about Hispanic-serving colleges nationwide, a leading research group on Tuesday launched a virtual data center to provide key information about these institutions as well as promising practices in serving Latino students.

The Hispanic-Serving Institutions Center for Policy and Practice, or HSI-CP², will provide researchers, university leaders and the general public with accessible information on Latinos in higher education, said leaders at Excelencia in Education, a Washington, D.C., organization that unveiled the project.

“Until today, there has been no central location to access research on HSIs to inform public policy, future research and effective practice for Latino student success,” said Sarita Brown, the organization’s president.

While HSIs represent only 11 percent of all higher education institutions nationwide, they enroll more than 60 percent of Latino students in college.

At a briefing in Washington, D.C., organizers noted that there is a need for a central online resource on these institutions even though the federal grant program for HSIs is nearly 20 years old.

“Too often the conversation stops at access to higher education,” said Deborah Santiago, vice president for policy at Excelencia in Education. This new site will provide data, graphics and detailed information on promising programs, not only at HSIs, but at other institutions with effective policies and programs that drive Latino student success.

The U.S. had 370 HSIs in 2013, using a framework that identified all colleges where Hispanic students represent at least 25 percent of full-time equivalent undergraduate students. These Hispanic-serving colleges are based in 15 states, led by California with 127. State-by-state profiles are another key ingredient of the online center.

Santiago said one key audience for the new site is “emerging” HSIs, or postsecondary institutions that soon are expected to meet the required Latino enrollment threshold if current trends continue. During the 2012-13 academic year, 277 colleges made the list of “emerging” HSIs.

“We can provide lessons learned from the early HSIs,” Santiago said.

Another goal of the new project is to “have a conversation about America’s human capital,” according to Brown. “HSIs have blossomed during the past 20 years,” she said, and the new online resource can be a “magnet that brings more people into the conversation.”


Santiago provided a demonstration of the new site and its architecture, which includes sections such as:

n  HSIs 101, an overview of Hispanic-serving institutions;

n  Infographics, or snapshots detailing the growth of Latino higher education participation and completion;

n  Tools, or ways to help educators better understand Latino student success;

n  Your Voice, in which individuals can provide their thoughts on serving Latino students; and

n  Data, which provides detailed information about colleges that meet the federal definition of an HSI.

The complete site is available at

Excelencia in Education launched the new resource in part through a $350,000 grant from TG, a Texas-based nonprofit focused on educating students about college and promoting college access. The site is available to the public free of charge.

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