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Undergraduate Success Center Serving Hispanic and Underserved Students Opens July 20 at John F. Kennedy University

July 20, 2016

State and local leaders joined JFK University leaders at the Pleasant Hill campus to dedicate the Center, which was funded by a $2.6 million grant

PLEASANT HILL, CA - As part of its mission to further educational opportunities for a diverse student population, John F. Kennedy University dedicated a new Undergraduate Success Center at a July 20 celebration that included invited state and local representatives. The project stems from a $2.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education and supports the ongoing academic success and of Hispanic and underserved students through a range of services including an innovative system to track individual student academic progress.

“JFK University is committed to providing the highest-quality support services and resources for all of our students including our Hispanic students, many who are the first in their family to get a college education,” said JFK University President Debra Bean. “The Undergraduate Success Center Serving Hispanic and Underserved Students, with its comprehensive suite of academic support services, demonstrates our commitment to being with them every step of the way to successfully achieve their educational and professional goals.”

Opening remarks were made by President Bean, with scheduled speakers including California Assemblywoman Catharine Baker; Pleasant Hill Mayor Sue Noack; and Dr. Judy Castro, JFK University’s Chief of Staff who led the effort to secure funding for the project. Other elected representatives included mayors and representatives from Greenfield, San Pablo and Concord.

The Center serves students with a special area that includes access to tutors, mentors, computers, and a library. With about 25 percent of the University’s student population identifying as Hispanic, University officials noted that the support goes beyond the physical space. The grant also covers an innovative system to track individual academic progress and determine where support is needed. This effort will help JFK University identify those who are at-risk or high-need, allowing the institution to begin working with them earlier, before students might end up on academic probation or fail a course.

The five-year, Title V Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions Program grant follows JFK University’s designation as a Hispanic Serving Institution, a federal program designed to help colleges or universities in the United States help low-income, first-generation, Latino students succeed in their studies.

Other services provided by the grant include:

  • Bolstering educational outreach efforts to educate the Hispanic community on the value of education and enrollment resources available. One in four students at the University are Hispanic, but that ratio is much higher in nearby areas. JFK University employees who work with the Latino population say many Hispanic residents are often unaware of their postsecondary options or how to fund their college education. Census data shows that just 16 percent of the adult Latino population in the region has a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 40 percent of the total adult population.
  • Developing articulation agreements with neighboring community colleges. Many regional community colleges are serving Hispanic students in the area, but students may not be aware of all of the support services offered by JFK University. The University wants to provide clear pathways for these students to complete their bachelor’s degree through articulation agreements and outreach efforts that demonstrate the University community’s commitment to serving a diverse student population.
  • Building a fund that will support future programs for Hispanic students. As part of its commitment to supporting academic success for the region’s diverse student population, JFK University is building a fund earmarked specifically for programs that will benefit students from underrepresented communities.

“I believe we are at the beginning of an opportunity to reduce the educational gap to further academic achievement and increase skills and capabilities that will have a strong impact on the economic development and competitiveness of the United States,” said Dr. Castro. “The level of education among the Hispanic community is not only a social issue, but is also a vital economic concern.”

About John F. Kennedy University
For over 50 years, John F. Kennedy University, a non-profit affiliate of the National University System, has offered undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs that prepare individuals for career success while also engaging the student in personal growth through a commitment to service. Today, the University’s three Colleges provide innovative higher education opportunities to 1,200 professionals who, despite a full range of life responsibilities, are determined to advance their education and improve their future. The Continuing Education division provides professional development education to more than 2,500 individuals per year. A pioneer of education that integrates theory and practice, John F. Kennedy University and its students touch the lives of more than 30,000 people in Bay Area communities every year through their support of outreach centers and public programs. For more information, visit