Championing Hispanic Higher Education Success

The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) has awarded more than $3.8 million in scholarships to students at HACU-member institutions in the United States and Puerto Rico since 1992.  Students can find information on the HACU Scholarship Program in this directory or by visiting www.hacu.net.

Founded in 1986 with a charter membership of 18 colleges and universities, the Association now counts more than 400 institutions of higher learning among its members in ten countries.

In the beginning

The idea for the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities was born in late 1985. Dr. Antonio Rigual, then vice president for institutional advancement at Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU) in San Antonio, Texas, and Sister Elizabeth Anne Sueltenfuss, OLLU president at the time, visited the Xerox Corporation headquarters to request support for the establishment of a “Center for Hispanic Higher Education.”

After being referred to Gus Cardenas, Xerox national liaison for Hispanic affairs, and with the collaboration of others, the initial idea of forming an association of colleges and universities with high Hispanic enrollments took shape. In January 1986, a meeting of higher education administrators from various institutions took place to attempt to define the purpose of the unnamed association.

On May 23-24, 1986, HACU was formed at a meeting attended by representatives from 19 institutions in six states and five educational associations. Officers were elected for the Association, which became the first organization of colleges and universities committed to Hispanic education.

The newly-formed group established a set of bylaws and defined its mission to engage in activities that heightened the awareness among corporations, foundations, governmental agencies and individuals about the role that member colleges and universities play in educating the nation’s Hispanic youth.

HACU Today

Today, HACU’s more than 380 U.S. member institutions, although they represent less than 10% of all higher education institutions nationwide, are home to more than two-thirds of all Hispanic college students, enrolling a total 4.5 million students.

In 1992, HACU led the effort to convince Congress to formally recognize campuses with high Hispanic enrollment as federally-designated Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) and to begin targeting federal appropriations to those campuses. These institutions, defined (in part) by their minimum 25 percent Hispanic enrollment, educate half the Hispanics in higher education in the U.S. but are severely constrained by persisting underfunding.



Soon after, HACU and its allies were instrumental in convincing Congress to appropriate money specifically for HSIs. For the first time ever, HSIs were granted $12 million in 1995 from federal resources. Since then, funding has increased significantly because of HACU’s persistent advocacy. In 2011, for example, $104.3 million were appropriated for the HSI undergraduate program under Title V of the Higher Education Act. HACU’s efforts have led to over $2 billion being set aside

for HSIs. See the accompanying chart for total appropriations for federal HSI programs to date.

HACU has launched an innovative effort to foster collaboration between HSIs and Hispanic-Serving School Districts (HSSDs). By 2011, 35 major K-12 school districts had become affiliated with HACU to this end. HACU was advocating with Congress for amendments to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to incorporate a series of new interventions and authorized funding to support such collaboration. The aim is to create a seamless pipeline for student success from kindergarten through graduate school. The proposed amendments include the creation of centers of excellence for teacher education, especially in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields, and for administrator leadership development at HSIs.

HACU’s collaborative approach has produced more than 30 formal Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) and Partnership Agreements with federal agencies, offices, and business organizations. HACU has also hosted technical assistance workshops for HSIs throughout the country on federal program grants and other resources available.

The HACU National Internship Program (HNIP), which in 2012 celebrates its 20th anniversary, has placed more than 9,500 student interns with corporations around the country or federal agencies in Washington or field offices. HNIP has been recognized by the federal Office of Personnel Management as a key strategy in increasing Hispanic employment in the federal government.

HACU also conducts policy analyses and research on issues affecting Hispanic higher educational success and HSIs. Through 2011, the association provided leadership with several ongoing grant-funded programs, including the Walmart MSI Student Success Project, the American Legacy Foundation’s Tobacco Use Survey, and a productive National Umbrella Cooperative Agreement with the Office of Minority Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

For students attending HACU-member institutions, HACU offers not only the HACU Scholarship program, but also study-abroad partnerships and other student programs. Thousands of young Hispanics benefit from HACU with internships, scholarships, college retention and advancement programs, pre-collegiate support, and career development opportunities and programs. Since 2005, Southwest Airlines has partnered with HACU to create the “Dándole Alas a Tu Éxito/Giving Flight to Your Success” travel award program which provides Southwest Airline tickets to students with socio-economic need who travel away from home to pursue higher education.

Each spring higher education administrators, students and supporters of Hispanic higher education gather in Washington, DC, for the annual National Capitol Forum on Hispanic Higher Education, to learn the latest in federal education policy and legislation and to visit their legislators on the Hill.

The annual conference in the fall is HACU’s premier conference on Hispanic higher education, attracting approximately 1,500 participants, and designed to address the improvement of Hispanic higher education, to forge linkages between K-12 and higher education, and to explore international partnerships in education.   Since 1998, HACU’s annual conference has included a Student Track, a two-and-a-half-day career-development program for undergraduate students. The Student Track has provided participants with career advice on such topics as communications skills and interview techniques, resume-writing and networking, and federal and corporate career opportunities. Most students are supported either by their home institutions as Student Ambassadors or by federal or corporate sponsors as Student Conference Scholars.

HACU’s biennial International Conference focuses on opportunities for cross-border educational collaborations, addressing the critical issues in international education.

Advocating for Hispanic higher education success for the fastest-growing and youngest population will be crucial over the next two and a half decades to ensure greater access and success in higher education, and to strengthen support for the colleges and universities where Latinos enroll. To regain the global lead in college degree attainment, Latinos must reach parity with the rest of America in degree completion. HACU will continue to advocate for HSIs, emerging HSIs, and Hispanic-Serving School Districts to be supported by all levels of government, the business community, and the philanthropic sector on par with the rest of higher education institutions and to fulfill its mission of “Championing Hispanic Success in Higher Education.”

Since the first $12 million appropriation in Fiscal Year 1995 for HSI capacity building, HACU and its allies in Congress have been able to add U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) funding in Fiscal Year 1997 and more than double Title V funding in Fiscal Year 1999.Since then, other packets of federal funding have been created by Congress for some fiscal years including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Department of Defense (DoD), for example. The College Cost Reduction and Access Act (CCRAA) legislation in 2008 added $100 million for STEM degree completion through articulation programs between HSI community colleges and 4-year degree institutions; this funding is committed at $100 million per year through 2019-20 fiscal year, which represents a cumulative investment in STEM Hispanic higher education of $1.2 billion over a period of 12 years. The combined grand total of federal funding granted to HSIs since 1995-96 fiscal year to date is more than $2 billion without counting the $800 million mandated through 2019 for STEM education. HACU and its supporters continue to advocate for increased investment in Hispanic-Serving Institutions.

The Hispanic Scholarship Fund Supports Latino Scholars A College Degree in Every Household by Katharine A. Diaz

Since 1975, the San Francisco–based Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF) has worked to fulfill a dream that in the future every Latino family will be able to boast at least one college graduate.

To date, the HSF has awarded more than $360 million in scholarships, representing more than 100,000 awards. It continues to build relationships with foundations and corporations, to educate parents and families about the importance of a higher education, and to reach out to students to help them secure the needed resources to pay for a college education. Most of its scholars are low income and are the first in their family to attend college.

Yet, the challenge remains great. According to the Center for Education Statistics, Latino students represent the second-largest, ethnic minority population in the United States but are less likely to enroll in colleges and universities compared with their non-Hispanic white counterparts. And their high school dropout rates remain considerably higher than for non-Hispanic whites.

Fortunately, the fund has seen a steady increase in scholarship funding despite the current economic climate. According to Cathy Makunga, vice president of Scholarship Programs for the HSF, “Shifting demographics tell us that if we don’t support this group of students, we are going to be in trouble in the future. We have to pay more attention to this student population.”

She points out that there is ever-increasing interest in funding scholarships in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). “We see more of an increase [in funding] in that area because of workforce development.”

This clearly correlates to the fact that the great majority of scholarship funding comes from corporations that are clearly interested in building an educated and qualified workforce.

“We are always looking for new markets and partners,” says Makunga, “but we are heavily focused on corporate funding. The majority of our funding comes from the corporate realm; as much as 80 percent.”

Still, there are other markets that the HSF is trying to capture as potential funders. An important one is individual giving. “We are trying to evolve our alumni base and individual giving,” explains Makunga. “We recognize that there is a need in cultivating that environment.”

For 2011-12, 5,116 scholarships (out of more than 15,000 applications accepted for consideration) were awarded by the HSF to the tune of more than $33.6 million.

Latino students looking for college funding will appreciate the broad base of programs managed by the HSF. Makunga and her staff of 11 administer 150 HSF scholarship programs that include high school to college, community college transfer and college scholarship programs. Some programs award as few as two to three scholarships, others as many as 300.

Funding partners include AT&T, Goya, Procter & Gamble, Staples, Toyota and many, many others.

In addition, she manages the HSF’s major national core programs as well as such specialized, co-branded scholarships as the Gates Millennium ScholarsProgram (GMS). “This is the Cadillac of scholarships,” explains Makunga. GMS scholarships guarantee a recipient five years of funding for their undergraduate studies. Then if they continue their post-graduate studies in STEM, education, public health or library studies, they can get continued funding to work toward masters’ and doctoral degrees.

The HSF employs several strategies to reach students. It outreaches to former applicants and recipients and utilizes social media to network with students. There are also direct-marketing campaigns to target various groups, academic departments at colleges and universities, and other institutions. In addition, the fund hosts events throughout the year to build awareness of the scholarships.

Another important piece is outreach to parents and families. Makunga notes that it is very important to educate parents and families about what it means to send a child to college. “Too often the family has not been included in that conservation,” emphasizes Makunga. They need to understand how important it is for their children to attend college, and to learn about available resources in order to spare them sticker shock.

HSF scholarships are available for a broad range of areas of study. Regardless, Makunga observes that there are a few general tips that can help you, an interested student, ensure that your application reaches reviewers.
You need to complete everything on the application and submit it by the deadline. You should try to make it clear what areas of study you are interested in. “Very few scholarships are open-ended,” notes Makunga.

For example, even if you know you want to obtain a degree in business, if you can be more specific about where yours interests lie—such as in actuarial sciences or accounting—that might give you an edge over other applicants.

Finally, you should look at those areas of study or professions where there is a deficit. If there is a lack students studying engineering, then there might be more scholarships available in that field.

And, yes, grades do matter.

Students, to learn more about the HSF and its scholarships, visit its Web site at http://www.hsf.net. Pay close attention to the requirements to make sure the scholarship is a match to you and your interests. Is preference given to a specific area of study? Is enrollment in specific colleges or universities preferred? And pay close attention to deadlines, which vary. Remember, an incomplete application or a late one is not likely to reach a reviewer.

Parents can also learn about programs and events that are directed at them on the Web site. These include publications and workshops and seminars. Potential donors—whether individual, corporate or foundation—can learn all about the many ways to donate to the HSF.

Hispanic Scholarship Fund
1411 W. 190th Street, Ste. 325
Gardena, CA 90248