By Teresa Flores
Northeast Texas Community College was recently awarded a Department of Education Title V grant valued at 2.5 million dollars. Over the next five years, Northeast will receive a portion of the award each year to use to help improve student services and increase student retention.
“This grant is timely and will be key in our efforts to expand opportunities for our students here at Northeast,” President Dr. Brad Johnson said. “With these funds, faculty will have new tools and expanded professional development opportunities. Students will have new ways to make better decisions about their educational pathway, and everyone at the college will come to have a clearer understanding of exactly what it takes to make a student successful while they are with us.”
Dean of Distance Education Anna Ingram, who worked on the process of obtaining the grant, said she is excited about receiving the allocation and the assistance it will offer to at-risk students. “It’s going to be great for the college,” Ingram said. “One of the main reasons I am excited about the grant is that it particularly targets areas and students that are going to benefit so much. It’s going to make a huge difference.”
This is the first time that Northeast has ever received a Title V grant. According to Ingram, approximately 275 schools across the nation apply for Title V funding, but only 30 to 40 applicants are awarded.
This Title V award is a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) grant, which means that the population at the college is required to be at least 25 percent Hispanic. Despite the title, Ingram said the grant is aimed to benefit all NTCC students who need assistance.
“Even though the grant is called Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions Program, this is a program that’s aimed at helping all students at becoming successful because the programs that will be put in place are for all students, especially for students that are high-needs students,” Ingram said. “The grant is for getting students here and making sure they’re successful and retain from semester to semester, year to year, up until graduation.”
Ingram said a portion of the funds will be used toward improving student services and to hire three success coaches that will monitor student success. The focus what the grant called “high-need students who are at risk of educational failure or otherwise in need of special assistance and support.” The grant will also be used to create both writing and math labs and to bring in student tutors to work with individuals who need help with their studies.
While the college has applied for and received a Title III grant before, Ingram said the path to receiving the larger Title V grant was not an easy one. To be eligible to even apply for the grant, the college was required to submit data that proved it met the 25 percent Hispanic population threshold.
“When we started doing our reporting, we discovered many of our students had no ethnicity listed,” Ingram said. “It was a campus-wide effort to make sure student records were correct.” Through a series of polling students and placing phone calls, the college was able to prove it is a Hispanic-serving institution. The college also solicited the help of Grant Consultant Mike Gaudette, who came to the campus and worked on the grant at no cost to NTCC. Gaudette met with administration and faculty to find out what actions the college needed to improve student success. Ingram said based on his visit, the college was able to come up with an objective for the grant.
After working under tight time constraints and getting the grant submitted, with only eight seconds left to spare, Northeast went into the typical waiting mode that takes place after applying for an educational grant. But, instead they received a notice stating that NTCC did not meet the criteria for being a Hispanic-serving institution and would be taken out of the running for the grant. Ingram said at first they were disappointed, but then decided not to take no for an answer.
“Through the process, we received a letter that said we did not meet the threshold,” Ingram said. “Dr. Johnson and I did a little research, and we figured out that we did meet that 25 percent. So they put our grant back into the pool again and said they had made a mistake.”
Dr. Johnson said the work on the grant was definitely a group effort and one that would pay off for the entire campus over the next five years.
“I am extremely grateful for the long list of faculty, administrators and staff who worked under time deadlines to put together an outstanding grant application,” Johnson said. “These grants are hard to win, and they are only given when the proposed project is well-conceived and clearly described.