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Diversity Reward

Vanguard University receives $2.57 million government grant for expanding educational opportunities for Hispanic students.

Vanguard University's efforts to recognize racial and ethnic differences in community life are accelerating, thanks to an infusion of funding from the U.S. Department of Education. As part of a more than $51 million federal grant for 96 Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), the Assemblies of God school in Costa Mesa, California, has received a five-year $2.57 million grant to strengthen and expand educational opportunities for Hispanic and low-income students through its Diversity and Inclusion Department. Vanguard is one of only two Council for Christian Colleges and Universities institutions to receive funding.

Vanguard opened its Diversity and Inclusion Department in 2009 to encourage students to explore cultural diversity, racial reconciliation, and gender equality issues. The school is a federally designated HSi: an institution of higher education with at least 25 percent Hispanic full-time equivalent undergraduate enrollment. This grant will allow the private, Christian university of liberal arts and professional studies to further educational opportunities for students through faculty development, curriculum development, and academic tutoring and mentoring.

"Across the nation, more Hispanics are enrolling in college and Hispanics soon will represent nearly one in three American workers," says Vanguard President Michael J. Beals. "We're committed to helping educate these emerging leaders and introducing them to ways they can transform the campus and their communities through their talent, faith, and influence."

Vanguard expects this grant to help more students access post-secondary degrees and credentials, which are key to building a highly skilled workforce. Plus, Vanguard aims to ramp up Diversity and Inclusion Department efforts to educate the entire student body about cultural diversity, racial reconciliation and gender equality issues. Already, Vanguard students such as Heidi Lepe and Sylvana Marquina are stepping up to extend this awareness beyond the campus.

Lepe, class of 2016, is promoting social and economic opportunities for Hispanics. The sociology major and recipient of a National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference scholarship for Latino students aims to help generate equitable opportunities for educational advancement, employment, and distribution of wealth and resources. As an intern at the Down Syndrome Association of Orange County, Lepe provides bilingual resources and educational support to families. She also works for the El Paseo Academic Program, helping dozens of students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

Set to graduate in 2017, Marquina is a biology major and Hispanic student scholar. She juggles her undergraduate studies with an internship at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach, and volunteered previously for John Muir Medical Center, delivering surgery schedules, training dozens of health care volunteers, and delivering hundreds of lab specimens. At Vanguard, Marquina is learning how to become a health care leader who advocates for affordable, high-quality, culturally and linguistically appropriate care in a timely manner. She intends to become a pediatrician.

The campus Diversity and Inclusion Department relocated to the newly commissioned Scott Academic Center this year. The three-story education center spans nearly 50,000 square feet and increases classroom capacity by 1,500 students per day.