WMU awarded $2 million grant to assist migrant students

Contact: Jeanne Baron

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University has been awarded more than $2 million over the next five years to support first-year undergraduate students who are migrant or seasonal farm workers or the children of such workers.

WMU's Division of Multicultural Affairs received $407,706 from the Office of Migrant Education in the U.S. Department of Education to fund that effort for 2012-13, and expects the office to renew the grant for another four years for a total of $2,075,735.

The funding is for the College Assistance Migrant Program, known as CAMP. WMU is one of only nine institutions in the country and among just two in Michigan to receive funding to implement CAMP. Michigan State University, which had its CAMP project refunded in 2010, received one of the four five-year grants just awarded for the migrant education office's related High School Equivalency Program, or HEP.

"The students helped by HEP and CAMP are some of the most motivated learners in America," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in announcing this year's round of migrant education funding. "These grants will help hardworking farm workers and their families obtain the quality education that they need to compete in the 21st-century global economy."

Diana Hernández, director of the Division of Multicultural Affairs and principal investigator for the University's grant project, reports that WMU-CAMP will enroll 40 eligible students each year. Nationwide, CAMP annually helps about 2,000 students.

"Migrant and seasonal farm workers are essential to the agricultural industry in the United States and in Michigan, yet they continue to be one of the most impoverished and underserved populations in this country," Hernández says. "Our unique, holistic service plan for the CAMP program will provide participants with the comprehensive academic, financial, health counseling and support services migrant students will need to successfully complete their first year and to continue at WMU."

She adds that Southwest Michigan is at the center of the state's stream of migrant and seasonal farm workers, according to data from the Michigan Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers Enumeration Profiles Study, conducted in 2006 for the State of Michigan Interagency Migrant Services Committee.

For more information, contact Diana Hernández in the Division of Multicultural Affairs at diana.hernandez@wmich.edu or (269) 387-4420.