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CONTACT: Bruce Smith
Public Information Officer
(310) 434-4209
DATE: October 22, 2004

“Behemoth” Awards to Help New College Students, Future Teachers

Receiving its two largest federal grants ever, Santa Monica College has been awarded “Title V” grants totaling $6.2 million over five years that will be used to help first-time college students succeed and to help train teachers in the face of a national shortage.

“These grants are known as the behemoth of grants – the largest amount of money you can get for community colleges,” said Marvin Martinez, associate vice president of planning and development, who oversaw a team effort to secure the grants. “We’ve been working hard to get these grants. It’s a great accomplishment for the college.”

The money – from the U.S. Department of Education – comes in the form of two awards: an individual grant to help first-time SMC students succeed in college and a cooperative agreement grant with El Camino College to help future teachers complete their lower-division coursework. The SMC programs developed from the grants are expected to have an impact on more than 1,000 students.

Title V grants are reserved for institutions that qualify as Hispanic Serving Institutions, with more than 25 percent of their enrollment Hispanic. SMC’s Hispanic enrollment is 28 percent.

SMC receives $550,000 this year for the individual grant and, over a five-year period, will get up to $2.75 million.

The money will be used for an intensive program to help first-time, at-risk students stay on track with their coursework and degree requirements through counseling and an “early alert” system that allows the college to identify and help students who are having difficulties. In addition, “bridge” programs for high school students will be established to introduce them to college courses and campus life.

The cooperative agreement teacher training program grant award – called “Preparing Tomorrow’s Teachers Today” – was made jointly to SMC and El Camino College in Torrance, for a total of $3.4 million over five years. The SMC component is approximately $1.36 million.

“There is a serious shortage of well-trained teachers, especially those who can teach our growing population of Spanish-speaking students,” said SMC President Dr. Piedad F. Robertson. “This grant will help ensure that our future teachers acquire the skills and understanding to work with ever increasing minority populations and are better prepared to receive their degrees and teaching credentials.”

College officials said part of the grant money will be used to establish a one-stop teacher training resources center, called Epicenter, where students can make sure they are on track to transfer to a four-year institution. Tutoring will also be available.

“Different universities have different requirements when it comes to education programs,” said Edie Spain, chair of SMC’s education department. “We’ll have a counselor with expertise in transfer requirements, as well as information on financial aid for those various programs. This grant will also help bring more students into the education program and accelerate the whole transfer process.”

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