The Department of Education awarded The University of New Mexico Los Alamos (UNM-LA) branch campus more than $2.3 million in funding under the Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions Program to help build strong STEM academic and career pathways for students.

The grant will provide more than $500,000 in funding each year for the next five years to address key initiatives.

Students at Orientation 2

The Pathways to Academic Success and Excellence (PASE) project builds on UNM-LA’s capacity to serve their students, particularly Hispanic and low-income students, and their communities in the region. Grant funding will be used to create systemic change that enhances the university’s ability to improve student success, prepare the workforce needed in the region, and improve financial sustainability.

UNM-LA Chancellor Cynthia Rooney will serve as the principal investigator for the project.

"This is the first individual Department of Education Title III or Title V grant that UNM-LA has received as a stand-alone University," she said. "We have participated in the past with collaborative grants with other higher education institutions. Given the current climate of state budget cuts, pursuing external funding is essential to maintain and strengthen the quality of our programs, and to pursue new initiatives."

The PASE proposal was submitted in February, prior to the many changes that have been implemented due the pandemic; yet one of the objectives of the proposal was to enhance and expand online learning.  

"Our campus has been developing and delivering quality courses online for many years," Rooney said. "We submitted our proposal pre-pandemic, which included a request for funds to expand our online curriculum and to provide additional training for our faculty to teach remotely. There are many innovative possibilities that we hope to explore.”

PASE funding will also be used to expand internships, research,and project-based learning opportunities with local employers, providing students with mentors and real-world skills to aid them in career advancement. Faculty and staff will have increased resources to access training on various topics related to cultural awareness, and improving student learning and student services. There is also a portion of the grant dedicated to endowment funding with a commitment by the campus to raise money to match the federal funds.

The grant term begins Oct. 1.