Elmhurst University is celebrating the opening of the Center of the Blue Promise/El Centro de la Promesa Azul.
The Center of the Blue Promise is a culturally inclusive space and meeting/gathering spot aimed at nurturing student success among the university’s Hispanic, underserved and first-generation college students, according to a news release.
“This center is a space, a place, where everyone on this campus is welcome, and where we are centering our intentionality about serving our fastest-growing population, our Hispanic students,” said Bruce King, vice president for equity and inclusion, during the grand opening celebration on Sept. 13. “We want to make sure the work we’re doing is moving from enrolling our Hispanic, Pell Grant-eligible and first-generation students, to making sure we are serving them in every way, every day, and in every corner of this campus.”
The new center is funded largely through a $3.4 million federal Title V grant, which the university applied for and received in the fall of 2022, within months of being designated a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) by the U.S. Department of Education. (Colleges and universities can gain HSI status if, over at least three consecutive years, more than 25% of their full-time undergraduate students identify as Hispanic or Latino.)
That Elmhurst University was awarded the highly competitive grant so soon after achieving HSI status is unusual, King said, and speaks to the strength of the application and its vision for what an HSI should look like at Elmhurst.
Services provided by the center will include programming, leadership development, efforts to connect students to other campus resources and greater engagement with students’ families, to bring them into the educational process.
Funds from the HSI grant also will support faculty development, changes to the First Year Seminar program and greater opportunities for Hispanic and Latino sotudents to study abroad, do undergraduate research and take part in internships and service learning, said Karina Rivera, project director of the grant.
“We want to make sure we’re helping students transition easily to Elmhurst and make sure they’re taking advantage of all the opportunities and experiences we have here,” Rivera said.