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CSI grant will help increase Jerome high school "go on" rate

A banner that says "Welcome To CSI" is draped between two light posts at the entrance to the College of Southern Idaho's Twin Falls campus.
Rachel Cohen
Boise State Public Radio
A banner welcomes people to CSI's Twin Falls campus before school starts.

The College of Southern Idaho received a grant from the U.S. Department of Education that it says will help it better serve current and future Hispanic students.

The $2.5 million grant over five years will allow CSI to improve the high school-to-college pipeline in Jerome County, where more than half of K-12 students are Hispanic.

About 46% of high schoolers in Jerome went to college after graduating in 2021, and CSI wants to bring the “go on” rate above 50%.

Those who choose a different path often already have job options or family commitments, said Jonathan Lord, the vice president of student life and enrollment.

“If it means that I can’t support or care for my family,” he said, as an example, “that might be a deterrent or a reason why I wouldn’t choose to do that immediately.”

But, the college still believes there are more students who can benefit from acquiring an education within a relatively short period of time.

The grant will allow CSI to expand its “Bridge to Success” program, to not only high school seniors but also juniors. It brings them onto the college campus in the summer.

“Give them the experience of multiple different programs and ideas, meet faculty, meet staff, get comfortable on the campus as a junior,” Lord said.

To do this, the college is partnering with the Jerome School District and the local high school and middle school chapters of the nonprofit Latinos in Action.

Through the grant, CSI will also offer more classes to help parents understand the college process for their kids, a new academic program for native Spanish speakers and more support for Hispanic student groups on campus.

CSI was qualified to apply for the Title V grant after it was federallydesignated as Idaho’s first Hispanic Serving Institution last year, meaning more than a quarter of its students are Hispanic or Latino.

According to data gathered by the Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs, the “go-on” rate for Hispanic students across Idaho was 39% in 2018 and for non-Hispanic students, it was 46%.

But the number of Hispanic students in Idaho enrolling in postsecondary education is increasing much faster than among non-Hispanic students.

Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen

Copyright 2022 Boise State Public Radio

As the south-central Idaho reporter, I cover the Magic and Wood River valleys. I also enjoy writing about issues related to health and the environment.