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Campus News
Your faculty and staff news since 1965
Current Issue: December 8, 2003
Volume 39, Number 10

UNM ENLACE receives grant to assist mid schools

By Steve Carr

UNM’s ENLACE (Engaging Latino Communities for Education) program has received a $75,000 grant for two years from the Lumina Foundation for Education. The aim is to help lower the Hispanic dropout rate in grades K-20, at Albuquerque Public Schools, Albuquerque Technical Vocational Institute and at UNM, and to create the systemic change necessary to graduate more Hispanics from institutions of higher learning.

The grant was awarded as part of Lumina Foundation’s McCabe Fund. The McCabe Fund supports organizations that enable students, particularly first-generation college students, low-income students and students of color, to broaden and make the most of their opportunities in postsecondary education.

“The Lumina Foundation funding is for middle schools so students can be aware of what they need to do to graduate from high school and get into college.”

Karen Sanchez-Griego, director of UNM’s ENLACE program

The project looks to establish ENLACE Family Centers in three targeted middle schools, including Garfield, Truman and Washington Middle Schools, with predominantly Hispanic student populations. The centers will provide students and families with academic, social and cultural support to reduce dropout rates and increase graduation rates. Center volunteers will serve as liaisons between parents and school administrators as well as creating a “home away from home environment on campus.”

“This was a great opportunity for the Lumina Foundation to come in and support the model we already have in place,” said Karen Sanchez-Griego, director of UNM’s ENLACE program. “The Lumina Foundation funding is for middle schools so students can be aware of what they need to do to graduate from high school and get into college, as well as preventing students from dropping out once they get to college.

“We’ve developed a model of family centers from a grant from the Kellogg Foundation, which was for high school students. The Lumina Foundation grant extends to middle school students and helps those students that feed into the high schools already in the program, as well as adding other students and families who need any assistance,” she said.

Fully staffed by parent volunteers, family center staff advocate for all students and their families. Hispanic families have additional needs such as translating information for Spanish-speaking parents and encouraging parents to take an active role in their children’s education. In the last two years, volunteers recruited 25 core family volunteers at each center and provided assistance to more than 1,000 families. They assisted in lowering the dropout rate of participating students, increased student access to college via pre-college testing and assistance in completing the federal financial aid form, provided tutoring for students during and after school hours and conducted hundreds of home visits in which volunteers track down dropouts in an attempt to reenroll the students in school.

Expansion of the family centers to middle schools will address problems students and families face and establish family involvement that will carry through into a stronger high school program, helping to establish a pipeline of support for students and their families throughout the educational system (K-20).

The McCabe Fund provides modest, competitive grants for programs that work directly with students to improve access to postsecondary education. These programs expand successful models or propose new approaches that are ready to be tested in the field. Grant proposals were requested from a select group of organizations across the country.

“We are optimistic that these grassroots initiatives supported by the McCabe Fund will help reduce the nation’s college attainment gap by assisting organizations, such as UNM’s ENLACE program, that help students achieve their potential by expanding access to an education beyond high school,” said Martha Lamkin, president and chief executive officer of the Lumina Foundation.