In order to expand academic offerings and improve program quality for Latino/a students, Cuesta College has been awarded a five-year, $2.5M grant from the United States Department of Education. A designated Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) since August of 2016, Cuesta College will receive a Developing HSI grant. The award goal is to create an academic and corresponding support system for students intending to become K-12 teachers.

“Cuesta College is an inclusive institution that inspires a diverse student population to achieve their educational goals; the HSI grant funding will greatly assist our Latino/a students as they strive to meet their goals of becoming K-12 teachers,” said Cuesta College Superintendent/President Dr. Gil Stork.

“With this funding, Cuesta College proudly solidifies its identity and reputation as a Hispanic-Serving Institution. We are dedicated to providing access to higher education for all who seek it, and this is another significant opportunity to fulfill that vision.”

Cuesta College currently serves a student population that is more than 33 percent Hispanic; the criterion for HSI designation for colleges or universities is a total Hispanic enrollment of at least 25 percent.

Due to the ongoing need for diversity among California’s teachers, Cuesta College chose to focus the Title V grant monies on improving its teaching career path. In 2015, 19 percent of California teachers were Hispanic, yet the State’s schools served a population that was 38 percent Hispanic.¹ Locally, a 95 percent increase in English language learners (primarily Spanish speaking) over the last 14 years has intensified the need to recruit and retain Hispanic teachers.² San Luis Obispo County Office of Education conducted an analysis of projected need by credential for teachers and found that the county will need a minimum of 250 new hires of teachers with credentials in all areas over the next five years.³

United States Congressman Salud Carbajal’s office informed the college of Cuesta’s federal award and commended the college for its efforts to address these issues.

“Cuesta College is an exemplary institution on the Central Coast that does great work expanding educational and vocational opportunities for minority populations and first-generation college students while addressing the needs of our community,” said Congressman Carbajal. “I have no doubt this grant money will go far over the next five years toward helping underrepresented students achieve academic success at Cuesta, while preparing them for their future careers.”

Students interested in teaching preschool, elementary school, middle school, high school, special education, and career technical education will receive enhanced support toward achieving their goals. The college will provide students with guided pathways toward earning a teaching credential, a bilingual academic success coach, faculty mentors, and more.

“As a Cuesta College instructor who earned a K-12 teaching credential, I understand just how complicated the path toward becoming a teacher is,” said Cuesta College Physical Sciences Division Chair and Title V Grant Project Director Bret Clark. “With this grant, we hope to reach out to our students, identify those who wish to become K-12 teachers, and then lead them down a prescribed pathway that will set them up for success once they leave here to obtain their specific credential of interest.”

The grant monies will be disbursed annually in the amount of approximately $500K. Although the funding will assist any student intending to become a K-12 teacher, the college hopes to increase the number of Latino/a students who identify teaching as a future career.

In addition to creating K-12 teaching career pathways and support services, the grant will fund a college-wide wireless network with Wi-Fi as the primary system for academic service delivery. Ubiquitous Wi-Fi coverage will provide equal access to online resources that improve student success, particularly to low-income students who may have unreliable services at home. The network will expand from 203 to 615 wireless access points on both the San Luis Obispo and North County campuses.

As an HSI, Cuesta College offers many support services to its Hispanic students. They include: the Latino Leadership Network, Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan (MEChA) and DREAMer student clubs, English as a Second Language (ESL) courses at the college’s South County Center in Arroyo Grande, and the annual Edúcate – Sí Se Puede, an on-campus conference attended by hundreds of local high school Latino and Latina students each year seeking information about higher education.

For more information, visit the Cuesta College website or the U.S. Department of Education website.

  • ¹ (California Department of Education, 2014-15)
  • ² (San Luis Obispo County Department of Education, 2013)
  • ³ (San Luis Obispo County Superintendent of Schools Dr. James J. Brescia, 2016)