(LAKE WORTH, Fla. – Sept. 18, 2020) Palm Beach State College has received a $3 million federal grant to improve retention and completion rates of Hispanic and low-income students.

The Title V grant, awarded under the U.S. Department of Education’s Developing Hispanic- Serving Institutions Program, will provide $600,000 a year over five years for the College’s Pathways to Success initiative.

It includes four components:

  • creation of a robust Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence to improve the capacity of faculty to address the needs of Hispanic and low-income students
  • creation of an ecosystem of data analytics to allow the College’s Institutional Research and Effectiveness office to inform faculty and college actions and resource allocation
  • embedding financial literacy into curriculum across programs and increased communication with students around the financial impacts of academic decisions, and
  • a guided pathways approach to advisement.

“This is a new day for student success at Palm Beach State College. With this grant we will be able to support our faculty in new and interesting ways as we look for research-based methods to reach students who need the help most,’’ said Dr. Roger Yohe, vice president of Academic Affairs.  “The absolute key to student success happens in the classroom between the faculty and the students on a daily basis.”

This is the second Hispanic Serving Institution grant Palm Beach State has received since being designated as an HSI in 2014. To qualify for the Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions Program, PBSC’s enrollment had to reach at least 25 percent Hispanic in the year prior to applying for the designation. Although the Hispanic population has grown through the years, PBSC reached the required threshold in 2013. Today, the Hispanic student population, the fastest growing at the College, is now 33%.

The components of the Pathways to Success initiative are in line with the College’s strategic plan goal to achieve equitable graduation rates for all students.

“Research says if you take a look at support systems that help a certain population ꟷ the way we design our programs and services ꟷ it will help all students, but particularly we want to help that population of students that needs help the most,” Yohe said. “Many students are first generation to attend college, and they need extra support to complete their college certificates and degrees in a timely manner. The more time it takes a student to earn a credential, the more money and lost opportunity income for the student.”

Central to this initiative is a persistent and structured framework for faculty professional development, which was implemented at the College two years ago but will evolve under the grant. The College will enhance space in the library on the Lake Worth campus for the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence, which will include full time support staff, as well as dedicate spaces for professional development at the other campuses.

“Our goal is to reach every faculty member which will impact every student in one form or another,’’ Yohe said. “We’re creating a culture focusing on improving teaching and learning,’’ Yohe said.

Serving 47,000 students annually, Palm Beach State College is the largest institution of higher education in Palm Beach County, providing bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees, professional certificates, career training and lifelong learning. Established in 1933 as Florida’s first public community college, Palm Beach State offers more than 130 programs of study at locations in Lake Worth, Boca Raton, Palm Beach Gardens, Belle Glade and Loxahatchee Groves.