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White House Recognizes RU-N-Led GSLSAMP Initiative As ‘Bright Spot’ For Attracting, Supporting Latino/a Students In STEM Studies

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Since 2009, Rutgers University – Newark (RU-N) has served as the lead institution in the Garden State Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (GSLSAMP), during which time GSLSAMP has seen an 84% increase in Latinos/as graduating in STEM fields of study (defined as science, technology, engineering and mathematics). 

The success of the GSLSAMP program has now been nationally recognized: Today GSLSAMP was named a “Bright Spot in Hispanic Education” by The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. The announcement was made by Alejandra Ceja, executive director of the Initiative, at the launch of National Hispanic Heritage Month and in honor of the Initiative’s 25th anniversary in Washington, D.C. “There has been notable progress in Hispanic educational achievement, and it is due to the efforts of these Bright Spots in Hispanic Education, programs and organizations working throughout the country to help Hispanic students reach their full potential," said Ceja.

More than 230 “Bright Spots” were selected from across the country. “Bright Spots are individuals, institutions, and programs which are “supporting and/or ensuring access to a quality, well-rounded education for Hispanics,” according to the Initiative. To be honored as a Bright Spot, the GSLSAMP program successfully met four White House criteria: impact a significant number of Latinos/as;  support one of four key educational priorities: Early Learning, College Access, College Completion, or STEM education; measurably  improve educational outcomes for Latino/a students; and be able to demonstrate its impact through measurable goals and data. 

“The White House, the National Science Foundation, and numerous STEM leadership groups are ramping up efforts to address the persistent opportunity gaps for Latino/a students, members of other underrepresented ethnic groups, and women in STEM,” says RU-N Chancellor Nancy Cantor, who is a member of the National Science Foundation’s Committee on Equal Opportunity in Science and Engineering. “Calling attention to successful pathway programs such as GSLSAMP through national recognition initiatives such as Bright Spots is critical to raising awareness of STEM academic opportunities, encouraging more Latino/a students to pursue them, and spurring more academic institutions to partner in broadening the pathways to STEM careers.”

The principal investigator for the program is RU-N’s Dr. Alexander Gates (pictured with GSLSAMP students), a professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences. 

“We could not be more proud — or honored — to see the LSAMP program, under the passionate and inspiring leadership of Dr. Alec Gates, recognized as a Bright Spot in Hispanic Education.  This is a transformative program of demonstrable efficacy in bringing opportunity to Latino/a students and changing lives,” states Jan Lewis, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at RU-N.

The GSLSAMP consortium comprises eight colleges and universities in northern New Jersey, of which five are “Hispanic Serving Institutions or Emerging Hispanic Serving Institutions,” including Rutgers University-Newark. “It has been both exciting and rewarding to experiment with and discover ways in which to help these underserved students to be successful in STEM majors and careers. It is a credit to this Garden State LSAMP group of 13 colleges and universities to have been so cooperative in this effort,” notes Gates.

Gates explains that the program “establishes pipelines from local high schools and participating community colleges though partner colleges and universities; provides academic support and creates a learning community to encourage academic success and timely graduation; and prepares graduates for careers and graduate school in STEM fields.” New methods of recruitment, instruction, and support were tested at RU-N; these best practices were then shared with the other GSLSAMP partners, Gates states, a model that has proved “phenomenally successful.”

Building on this success, five community colleges, all of which are “Hispanic Serving Institutions,” were added as associate members of the GSLSAMP, and designated the “Northern New Jersey Bridges to the Baccalaureate (B2B) Program.” All are using the proven best practices to improve the success of students from underrepresented groups in earning a bachelor’s degree in a STEM field.

RU–N has connected with a Professional Science Master’s program and a Minority Biomedical Research program to offer exclusive opportunities at the undergraduate and graduate level, and begun a program with Passaic County Community College to target all Latino/a students for academic success and timely graduation, building upon the successes of the Garden State LSAMP.

For more information about Garden State LSAMP: http://gslsamp.rutgers.edu/

The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics was established in 1990 to address the educational disparities faced by the Latino/a community. To learn more about the Initiative and to view the Bright Spots in Hispanic Education national online catalog visit www.ed.gov/HispanicInitiative.

Media contact: Carla Capizzi, capizzi@rutgers.edu