A $3.1 million federal grant will help California State University, Fresno in its efforts to close the gap between the number of Hispanic and Caucasian students who graduate.

The developmental grant, awarded by the U.S. Department of Education to Hispanic-Serving Institutions – universities with a 25% or more Hispanic enrollment – will fund a new program, Commitment to Latina/o Academic Success and Excellence (CLASE) by providing  specific resources for students and the university to improve upon graduation rates among Hispanic students.

Currently the gap between Hispanic and Caucasian students during six-year graduation rates at Fresno State sits at 16%, with 41% of Hispanics graduating and 57% of Caucasians graduating.

Adrian Ramirez, the program’s project director, said the goal of the Fresno State program is to close that gap by 10% by 2015, when the grant is complete.

“The grant will allow us to really focus on students from two fronts: the academic side and the student affairs side,” Ramirez said.

CLASE will redesign courses to engage and better serve students, in addition to working with them one-on-one through counseling, setting goals and tackling difficult decisions early  in their college careers.

“We are looking to reinforce the idea that a student isn’t an island but in a community of learners. This will benefit not only our students but also our university,” Ramirez said.

The grant will provide CLASE with roughly $650,000 annually for five years.

For more information contact Ramirez at 559.278.5058 or adrianr@csufresno.edu.