The High School Equivalency Program (HEP) and College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) at The University of Texas-Pan American were recently awarded two grants worth a total of about $4 million each by the U.S. Department of Education that will help students from migrant or seasonal farm worker families attain their GED or a higher education.
HEP received a grant for $400,000 while CAMP was awarded $395,000 to support the programs for the next five years annually.
Helping make this funding possible was Congressman Rubén Hinojosa (TX-15), who worked with the U.S. Department of Education to bring these grants to UTPA.
"A quality education is one of the most important things we can give to our children. The grants awarded to The University of Texas-Pan American will provide students in South Texas the means and the resources to continue their education, which is key to the economic development of the entire region. I was glad to work with the U.S. Department of Education on this funding and congratulate UTPA on this well-deserved honor," Hinojosa said.
HEP helps students from migrant or seasonal farm worker families who have dropped out of high school attain their General Educational Development (GED) degree, and CAMP assists students from migrant or seasonal farm worker families in their first year of college with both counseling and stipends.
"The $400,000 annual grant will allow our HEP project to continue providing services for an additional five years. The HEP project has been at UTPA for over 30 years," said Felipe Salinas, director of College Access and Support Programs. "Our HEP project will be serving 125 students a year with the goal of at least 65 percent of them receiving their GED. We also propose to place our students in post-secondary educational, employment or training settings after they earn their GED."
Salinas said HEP's goals are to provide instructional services to prepare participants to successfully pass the GED examinations; to provide support services to enable participants to successfully earn their GED; to provide participants with instruction on life management skills, guidance in identifying post-GED goals and assistance in taking steps to achieve these goals; and to place HEP GED graduates in post-secondary education, vocational training, military service or employment.
The $395,000 CAMP grant will be used to provide services to more than 70 full-time, identified freshman students from migrant and seasonal farm worker families who have been admitted for enrollment at UTPA to enable these students to successfully complete their first year of college and continue to be enrolled in post-secondary education.
CAMP, a program that began its first year at UTPA in 1999, serves eligible students from three target areas - Hidalgo, Willacy and Starr Counties.
"The program's goal is to increase the number of migrant and seasonal farm worker students who earn degrees at the university level. Students from farm working backgrounds are represented in very small numbers in higher education. We are hoping to change that by helping students make the transition to college life and develop the skills needed to succeed in college," said Marilyn Hagerty, CAMP director.
Hagerty said the new grant authorizes funding for the program for a five-year period from July 1, 2004 to June 30, 2009. Through the program students are tracked after they complete their freshman year at UTPA to ensure they continue with their higher education and earn a degree.
Among the services CAMP provides are admissions and financial aid application assistance, academic advising, peer tutoring, a monthly stipend of up to $100, financial assistance for up to 20 students living in University housing, leadership development, personal counseling and more.
Both programs submitted proposals to the U.S. Department of Education as part of a national competition in April. The proposals were read by peer reviewers and rated on a 100-point scale. Existing HEP projects, Salinas said, were eligible for up to 15 prior experience points.
"The combination of our proposal and prior experience points ranked us high enough to qualify for a grant once again. This is especially important because of funding cuts five existing HEP projects did not receive new awards," he said.
The UTPA CAMP grant was one of 14 grants awarded out of 50-plus proposals throughout the U.S. and HEP received one of 18 grants this year from 50 proposals submitted.
HEP and CAMP are under the College Access and Support Programs at UTPA, which also includes programs such as Upward Bound; Educational Talent Search; Upward Bound Math & Science (UBMS); Texas Prefreshman Engineering Program (TexPREP); and Valley Outreach Center (including the Mother Daughter Program).