LEAP is holding a series of events on our campus, with other campuses and with the community at large to collaboratively develop policy options.
We recently held our first major event – Latina/o Students in Higher Education: Identifying critical issues and new possibilities at Bay Area universities – a one-day forum for community dialogue, information sharing, and informed reflection. Our research and community discussions are starting to yield some specific recommendations. Among these are:
- Provide peer mentors. Counselors are stretched to the limit and students are not getting the support they need. Latinos rely on peers and families for advice. Peer mentoring for students and parents could provide support in a culturally relevant way.
- Direct outreach to community and families. Provide early college awareness within the community (i.e., at churches, parks, community events, community organizations).
- Bilingual/Bicultural materials, events and personnel. Translate online and in-print materials; provide translators at events; and diversify faculty, staff and administration.
Ensuring college affordability
- Cross training among admissions, financial aid and faculty. Better interconnection and information sharing. Embed process into the classroom.
- Financial literacy. Help students and families with financial literacy and strategies to stay in college. For example, running financial literary workshops for students and parents at community organizations.
- Free/affordable higher education. Develop strategies that make college affordable. For example:
- Working with local transportation agencies to develop a discounted or free pass for students in the greater Bay Area.
- Develop subsidies like section 8 on campus housing for low-income students.
- Put scholarship forward and provide more professional development and support with applications.
A relevant educational experience and campus climate
- Create safe zones. Create social and physical spaces for students to get information, connect to services, develop civic engagement, gain professional skills and share with peer, mentors and staff.
- Increase capacity to provide "next step" services that connect students to services - e.g., establish a "Welcome Center" that provides information about what is available. Create a buddy system for peer support that include faculty and staff.
- Provide professional development training for staff, faculty and students around diversity and multicultural issues, and develop follow-up procedures.
- Work with faculty on curricula and policy changes.
- Make sure curricula include Latino voices and perspectives. Make the faculty more aware of the issues confronting Latino students, examining department data on attrition, graduation, GPA, etc., and discuss at faculty meetings to build critical mass of support. Examine the classroom (i.e., syllabus, prerequisites, impaction, assignments, and pedagogical practices).
- Provide more opportunities to experience Latino culture on campus. Develop events and lecture series. Diversify faculty, staff and administration.
Engage families and communities
- Help families earlier. Provide support with the application process, including financial aid, and provide information about resources available in their communities. Demystify the processes, promote self-advocacy. A third of Latino families are not on the interne.
- Respond to families' needs - e.g., provide childcare and food in order for them to be able to participate in sessions.
- Create spaces for family on campus. An orientation targeting Latino students and families with the purpose of making students feel welcome, giving families and opportunity to get crucial information, and involving the family in the campus community. Have multilingual and culturally competent staff, peers and mentors available.
- More in-person outreach rather than electronic. Engage with people and personalize support. Understanding the students' and families' needs builds trust.
LEAP is working to clarify these priorities, identifying people and organizations that need to be engaged and soliciting further feedback.