A five-year, multimillion dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Education has been awarded to NAU-Yuma and Arizona Western College to foster student success initiatives at the two schools.

The $3.7 million award was announced earlier this week as part of more than $12 million the department granted to 19 Hispanic-Serving Institutions nationwide to expand education opportunities to Hispanic students and low-income individuals.

“We know that Hispanics are the fastest growing ethnic group pursuing higher education, but we need to improve the graduation rate for Hispanic students and provide opportunities for them to achieve their higher education goals,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “This grant program will help more Latino students have access to quality higher education, which is key to building a highly skilled workforce to compete in a global marketplace.”

Beginning this fall, both schools will begin using the funds to enhance their orientation, advising, peer mentoring and tutoring programming. Plans also are underway to establish transfer centers for NAU-Yuma and AWC students and a joint Military Student Support Center. The grant also will be used to improve student information management to better plan for and track student success.

NAU-Yuma and AWC are designated Hispanic-Serving Institutions and share a campus in a region that serves a largely disadvantaged Hispanic population. They are the only Arizona schools to receive the award.