Due to the current COVID-19 Pandemic, various Minority Serving Institutions and Hispanic Serving Intuitions received CARES Act Federal Funding as part of a COVID-19 grant in the Spring/Summer of 2020. The Office of Diversity and Inclusion reached out to various departments, faculty, and staff for recommendations on programs and activities that meet the funding guidelines for the grant. Of the 22 ideas proposed, 11 were awarded that met the guidelines of focusing on students, technology, pedagogy, accessibility, operations, and programs.
We wanted to make sure that students received as much as they could from the grant by supporting students in their roles as Learning Assistants, Teaching Assistants, and Transfer Peer Mentors. Through these opportunities, students in these roles also contributed to supporting faculty in the classrooms to improve student experience as faculty switched their curriculum to online/hybrid formats. Faculty also had the opportunity to participate in the Association of College and University Educators (ACUE) full academic-year course. The course assisted faculty with inclusive online teaching tools that also helped with the transition online. Because of Teaching Assistants, we saw an increase in student retention of 3.37% in those who participated. Additionally, the Transfer Peer Mentor program had a caseload of 2,760 during the 2020-2021 academic year. From Fall 2020 through Fall 2021, the Learning Assistants program saw 122 Learning Assistants support 81 different faculty members in 149 courses. Finally, through the CARES funding, we also provided books and supplies for students that participated in the Admissions and Center of Equity and Student Achievement’s mentoring program as well as the School of Education’s Roadrunner Diversity Scholars program.
Since the pandemic required faculty/staff/students to transition from in-person to online and hybrid formats, we used CARES funding to support students using online tutoring programs such as TutorMe. Based on the fall student impact survey, students reported having outdated hardware and no laptops to complete their course assignments. 52 students, including student employees, benefited from laptops purchased using HEERF funding for the spring 2021 semester. We were also able to provide additional Zoom services for affinity group graduations for students, faculty, staff, and families to be able to celebrate the accomplishments of their students.
Lastly, as a Hispanic Serving Institution that is intentionally finding ways to serve our students, we believe translating website content and university documents into Spanish illustrates our continued dedication to our Hispanic/Latina/o/x students and families from Spanish speaking homes and values the knowledge and skills of our current staff and faculty. Remaining HEERF funding were allocated to lost revenue to continue to fund some of the programs such as Teaching Assistants, ACUE Cohort, Spanish translation, and Transfer Peer Mentors for the remaining of the spring 2022 semester.