Includes $15 Million for New Nat’l Science Fdn Program for HSIs
Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Cuellar announced millions of dollars in funding for colleges and universities that serve Hispanic student populations, as well as language to promote opportunities for Hispanic students to partner with or work for federal agencies.
The language and funding were part of the Omnibus Appropriations Act, which funds the government for the rest of the 2017 fiscal year, and which passed the House of Representatives earlier this month. There are more than a dozen Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) in or near Congressman Cuellar’s district, including Laredo Community College, South Texas College, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, University of the Incarnate Word, and Texas A&M International University.
“I know firsthand the transformative power of education,” explained Congressman Cuellar. “I experienced it in my own life. I also see it every day in my district, as we have more than a dozen Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) serving our area. These schools produce top-notch academic talent, prepared for a 21st-century workforce. Our accomplishments today ensure that federal agencies do not miss out on this valuable population in research, partnerships, and hiring – and that these important institutions have the funds they need to continue to succeed.”
The funding included $15 million for the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop a program focused on HSIs. The program was authorized by Congress in 2007, and finally received the necessary funding this year thanks to Congressman Cuellar’s dogged advocacy. His language also ensured that HSIs and Historically Black Colleges and Universities will be represented in NSF’s cybersecurity research.
Other provisions Congressman Cuellar fought for to assist Hispanic students pursuing higher education include:
- $9,219,000 in education grants for HSIs, and added language directing the National Institute of Food and Agriculture to partner with HSIs on biotechnology programs.
- Language to ensure HSIs are represented in NASA’s STEM Education and Accountability Programs (SEAP).
- $33.6 million for the Historically-Black Colleges and Universities and Minority Institutions Program. Cuellar also added language to encourage partnerships with HSIs within the National Security Education Program to ensure diversity within the Intelligence Community and to increase the number of analysts with proficiency in critical languages and critical studies, as well as improve science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) participation and opportunities for underrepresented minorities.
- $19 million for the Minority-Service Institution Partnerships Program, including funding for the Tribal College Initiative. Cuellar also added language that encourages the Department of Energy’s National Laboratories and the National Nuclear Security Administration to continue developing partnerships with HSIs.
- Language to speed up the hiring process within the federal government for qualified employees, while focusing on recruiting talent for federal agencies from HSIs.
- $950 million for Federal TRIO Programs, which is $50 million more than the 2016 level. The TRIO programs are federal outreach and student services programs designed to help individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds progress through their academic careers from middle school to post baccalaureate programs. TRIO programs primarily serve low-income, first-generation college students, as well as students with disabilities, veterans, homeless youth, foster youth, and individuals underrepresented in graduate education.
- San Antonio College, Texas A&M International University, Laredo Community College, St. Mary’s University, University of Texas San Antonio, Alamo Colleges, University of the Incarnate Word, University Of Texas Rio Grande Valley, South Texas College, and Coastal Bend College have all received funding from the TRIO programs.
- $340 million for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP), which is $17 million more than the 2016 enacted level. GEAR up is designed to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education. GEAR UP provides six-year grants to states and partnerships to provide services at high-poverty middle and high schools. GEAR UP grantees serve an entire cohort of students beginning no later than the seventh grade and follow the cohort through high school. GEAR UP funds are also used to provide college scholarships to low-income students.
- Texas A&M International University has used GEAR UP funds to prepare over 8,000 students, in 19 school districts throughout South Texas covering approximately 14,792 square miles.
- $108 million for the Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions Program.
- $9.7 million for the Promoting Post Baccalaureate Opportunities for Hispanic Americans Program.
- $45 million for the High School Equivalency Program (HEP) and the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP).
- Language encouraging the U.S. Department of Transportation to partner with HSIs for research on minority-owned businesses.
Today’s announcement follows news from Congressman Cuellar last week about expansions of the Pell Grant program. In a press release, he shared that the maximum award for the grants will be increased, and that students will now be able to apply the grant to summer classes.
At that time, President of Texas A&M International University Dr. Pablo Arenaz, who leads Congressman Cuellar’s alma mater, an HSI located in the 28th district, said:
“At Texas A&M International University, Cong. Cuellar’s advocacy of lowered loan interest for students on financial aid, and increased investment in STEM fields for under-represented women and minorities, especially Hispanics, has significantly accelerated students’ degree pursuit and career success. His yearly hosting of STEM Alliance events on our campus have become magnets for student engagement. As the most degreed member in Congress, his advocacy is clearly rooted in his personal experience, which inspires our students daily. As a champion of higher education in our Congress, he has few equals. We applaud his advocacy for Hispanic-serving Institutions and his commitment to ensuring adequate funding for the programs at these Institutions that change lives. ”
The Omnibus Appropriations Act also included many other key legislative accomplishments for Congressman Cuellar, including support for the environment, citrus growers in the Rio Grande Valley, low-income people, and good governance