Between 2014 and 2018, Latinos showed the lowest college-going trends among all minority groups in Indiana and Marion County, and a new project seeks to increase those numbers through working with families and the community.
An exploratory study conducted in Indianapolis, found that for many Latinx families, especially newcomers, the barriers they face in getting their children into college are ones they struggle to address alone, such as being unfamiliar with the college preparation process.
With that knowledge, IUPUI Office of Community Engagement Assistant Director of Research Silvia Garcia, and Director of Latino Affairs Cindy Gil, with the collaboration a Community Engagement Associate Devin Wolfe, embarked on a new project that would work with Latinx families to support them in the college preparation progress.
Garcia and Gil, who partnered with Latino Expo, and enrolled Indianapolis Public Schools teachers and Eskenazi Health staff as co-researchers in this project, will work with Latino parents to co-create culturally appropriate resources and tools that connect families with academic, legal, and financial resources and information they are either unaware of or cannot access easily, Garcia said.
“Research has proven the impact of Latinx parents’ and friends’ aspirations on student enrollment in college. We expect that by increasing the ‘college knowing’ of parents, they can play a more active role in helping their children navigate the college-going process effectively, and eventually improve the odds of college education for Latinx students in Indianapolis,” Garcia said.
Their project recently received funding from the IU Racial Justice Research Fund, and from the Indiana Campus Compact High-Impact Community Engagement Practices grant program.
With that funding, Garcia and Gil will be able to engage more members of the community in their project, including teachers who serve Latinx populations, Latinx IUPUI freshman college students who have recently lived the experience of transitioning to college, and parents who have college aspirations for their children, Garcia said.
Each of the groups can learn from each other while producing useful and relevant resources and tools. The resources they create will then be shared with the community, she said.
By doing this work, they hope to support Latinx families in preparing their students for college, and to increase the number of Latinx students attend and finish college.