Northwest Arkansas Community College receives grant to increase Hispanic-enrollment

Pamela Acosta

The Northwest Arkansas Community College’s LIFE program recently received a $432,883 grant from the Walton Family Foundation to continue growing its near-peer mentorship program for Latino youth. The LIFE program is celebrating its 10th anniversary. Its main goal is to encourage Latino youth to pursue higher education. 

NWACC will use the grant to hire a new staff member, increase professional development for their team, and expand the LIFE program offers. The college also plans to increase Hispanic enrollment to become a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI). 

The U.S. Department of Education Hispanic-Serving Institutions Grant Programs provides funds to assist HSIs with expanding educational opportunities for and improving the academic attainment of Hispanic students. The grants enable HSIs to expand and enhance the academic offerings and program quality of colleges and universities educating most Hispanic college students.

“This grant will play an important role in helping NWACC remove barriers in students’ educational journeys,” said NWACC Vice President of Student Services Justin White in a press release. “As NWACC celebrates 10 years of the LIFE program, it is important that we reflect on that journey, celebrating our victories while acknowledging our opportunities. We look forward to moving toward HSI designation and utilizing its benefits to improve the lives of our Latino students and community.”

There are currently 1,968,260 Hispanic students enrolled in 411 HSIs in 24 states and Puerto Rico. To qualify as an HSI, NWACC must increase its enrollment of Hispanic students from 22.3% to 25%. The college would be the first HSI in Arkansas. 

To increase and retain Hispanic student enrollment, the NWACC plans to expand its staff’s professional development opportunities and hire a new LIFE Student Success Coach. The success coach will support LIFE students’ transition into college life with resources such as enrollment assistance, tutoring, counseling, and wellness services. The new hire will also provide one-on-one coaching to students and families. 

NWACC also plans to expand its LIFE program offering, including adding a Padres program to help Hispanic parents navigate college life. A second LIFE Summer Program would invite graduating high school seniors to NWACC for a day to experience campus life as they prepare for college. And finally, the LIFE Legacy Alumni program would connect previous NWACC graduates from the LIFE mentors with current mentors who need assistance pursuing their careers.