Eastern Washington University has been awarded a $2.1 million federal grant under the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) to help create more STEM opportunities for first-year students from underrepresented backgrounds, while also bolstering retention efforts.

Under the grant administered by the U.S. Department of Education, the university will receive $425,000 each year for five years. Beginning this fall, it enables EWU to serve 38 first-generation migrant and seasonal farmworker students who meet the federal legislative definition each academic year.

Eastern will utilize the funding to provide quality educational, cultural and financial support through mentoring, tutoring, cohort-based classes, and a culturally responsive community.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the state of Washington has the third largest migrant population in the nation. Almost half of EWU’s top 30 feeder school districts have a high number of migrant-eligible students, so the CAMP grant will allow the university to assist these students who aspire to study Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics but face numerous barriers to achieving this goal.

“We are excited to welcome, encourage, and support migrant students, their families and communities here at Eastern,” says Nydia Martinez, PhD, academic director of CAMP and director of Chicana/o/x Studies at EWU. “Migrant students bring with them a wide array of cultural wealth to EWU, such as strong work ethic, a rich cultural heritage, strong community networks, multilingual richness, and above all they are examples of resiliency that inspire us all.”

The CAMP program aligns with the university’s commitment to diversity and inclusion by providing the necessary assistance early on to give students a sense of acceptance and belonging—a critical aspect of retention.

“This is an important opportunity for Eastern to support students who are coming to us from a migrant family background and to help them be successful in their educational goals,” says interim EWU President David May. “We recognize there are various migrant communities in our region and state, and this program will benefit a wide range of students.”

May thanked Martinez and Charlene Alspach, executive director of the Office of Grant and Research Development, for their diligent work in securing the CAMP grant. He also noted the great cooperation among members of the state’s congressional delegation who advocated for EWU to meet the needs of its students.