UIW Awarded Major Grant to Support First-Generation and Hispanic Students

November 18, 2022

Grant will be used to establish the “Somos Unidos – One Word Project”

First-generation student poses

San Antonio – The University of the Incarnate Word (UIW) is proud to announce 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. The intent is to create a sense of belonging for our students and methods to help students develop confidence and their own voices, ultimately strengthening 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% 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 with workshops and interactive learning experiences designed to build a sense of belonging, and create 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, 2022. All activities will occur between December 1, 2022, and September 30, 2023.