UConn Hartford has been awarded a $1.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to support its growing Asian American student population.
The funds will be used to launch the Transformation, Equity, Access, and Sense of Belonging (TEAS) project to improve retention and graduation rates for Asian American students and promote increased advancement to graduate and professional schools.
The project will enable the university to hire a visiting assistant professor and a full-time clinical therapist to provide increased academic and mental health support. Additionally, the grant will support the implementation of a culturally relevant curriculum, expand the existing mentorship program, double the capacity for mental health services, provide new income sources for students, and outline clear pathways to success for Asian American students.
The Asian American student population at UConn Hartford has been steadily increasing in recent years and now makes up 17 percent of the campus. This growth reflects the expanding Asian American population in central Connecticut, which has more than doubled since 2000 and now exceeds 40,000 people from over two dozen countries, according to a university press release.
Despite the model minority stereotype, Asian American communities, including a majority at UConn Hartford, face notable economic disadvantages. Over 50 percent of Asian American students come from households earning less than $45,000 annually. The TEAS project leaders aim to counter the declining persistence, performance, and retention rates experienced by these students that were exacerbated by the pandemic.
“Asian American students have long been overlooked as a population deserving of academic, career, and social services,” said Jason Oliver Chang, principal investigator for TEAS, director of the Asian and Asian American Studies Institute, and associate professor at the university.