Mercy University Receives Two Grants from the U.S. Department of Education to Provide Additional Support for Minority Students

Mercy University Seal

These awards will fund programs to improve and enrich the educational experience of low-income and Hispanic students.

Today, Mercy University announced that it has been awarded two grants totaling nearly $4 million by the U.S. Department of Education. The grants will fund programs intended to improve the learning experience, support network and career preparation of its minority students. Mercy University is the largest private, non-profit Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) and minority-serving institution in the region.
The first grant, awarded through the Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions Program - Title V program, will fund Project COMPASS (Connecting Mercy Pathways and Student Supports), a five-year program to increase enrollment, retention and persistence of Hispanic and low-income students, to improve their on-time graduation rates, while taking new measures to meet their social, emotional, and academic needs. 
“We are honored to be selected to strengthen the resources available to promote both the quality of our students’ learning and the quality of their experience with us,” said Peter West, project director and dean of the School of Liberal Arts. “Mercy University has been focused for some time on the importance of these crucial, initial touch points of first-year connectivity in order to help students succeed and flourish during their time with us.” 

As part of the COMPASS initiative, Mercy will establish a new First-Year Experience for all freshmen and will fully remodel its General Education curriculum to support engagement and retention and will develop an enhanced support network better connecting students to University resources. First-year Faculty Fellows will be trained to offer an enhanced level of care and attention, including growth mindset skills, as part of the First-Year Seminar. In addition, dedicated Peer Mentors will be trained to assist first-year students in navigating college life, managing time and other stress factors, and seeking help where and when it is needed.

Mercy will work with Faculty Fellows supported by a dedicated Instructional Designer to revise courses and develop new ones. The newly designed curriculum will envision subject matter from the perspectives of career and cultural relevance, incorporating themes from popular culture, current events, and applying theories to real world problems.

In addition, funding will support a menu of integrated co-curricular activities, including field trips and guest speakers, to help bring course material into focus and connect students’ learning to their lived experiences.  Funding for this project is nearly $3 million.

A second grant, under the federal Minority Science and Engineering Improvement Program (MSEIP), will fund the project titled, Support, Access, Growth, and Experience (SAGE), to support the education of students, primarily minority women, who are enrolled in STEM program majors including Computer Information Systems, Computer Science, Cybersecurity and Mathematics.  The goal of Project SAGE is to improve the quality of preparation for careers or graduate work in STEM while taking additional steps to foster a sense of belonging and community during their college journey. Project funding for this grant is approximately $885,000.

“This federal funding addresses the pressing need for more representation of women and other minorities in STEM careers, by helping us enrich their academic experience and career preparedness,” said Charles Li, project director and associate professor of Mathematics. “Our goal is to provide education which lets them leap from Mercy University to fulfilling professions in these fields.”

As part of Project SAGE, Mercy University gateway courses in math and science will be redesigned to improve students’ academic performance and facilitate their persistence to upper-level STEM courses. Faculty drop-in tutoring hours will be offered during weekday evenings and on weekends to accommodate student schedules. Mercy will offer professional development to primary school teachers in the Yonkers Public School System, the fourth largest school district in New York State.