The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

Raíces program assists SBCC’s increasing Hispanic population

Claire Geriak
Since SBCC’s recognition of becoming a Hispanic-Serving Institution, many different programs have come out of this new title, including Raíces and the TAP program, helping students with their educational goals. Illustration created on Canva.

City College was recognized as a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) as of March 2021 by the U.S. Department of Education under the grant Title V- “Developing Hispanic-Serving Institution”.

In other words, City College is an “accredited, degree-granting, public or private nonprofit institution of higher education with 25 percent or more total undergraduate Hispanic full-time equivalent student enrollment,” according to the official school website

As of the fall 2023 semester, over 40% of City College’s student population identified as Hispanic, according to the campus demographics.

Project Co-Director Title V HSI Grant and English Professor Melissa Menendez was first hired when the campus’ Hispanic population reached 25% in 2006. 

Menendez has been developing ¡Raíces: First Year and Beyond! – a program created through funding provided by the HSI grant. According to Menendez, the program was launched in the fall of 2023 in collaboration with program coordinator Sergio Lagunas. 

Menendez also plans to collaborate with other staff members at City College to establish courses for students enrolled in the Raíces program, specifically courses to help first-year, first-generation college students maintain focus on their education. 

“It is important because it recognizes the potential that we have to contribute to social justice in education,” Menendez said in an interview through email. “We need to institutionalize programs and policies that affirm our Hispanic students to increase their goal attainment and acknowledge that they are nearly the majority of the students we serve. We need to recognize that when we are intentionally serving our Latine students, we ARE serving all students.”

Menendez emphasized the importance of student input to determine how the institution can better help them and offer more support and opportunities. 

Lagunas, who works as the program coordinator for Raíces, also shared his own input into this new program. 

“We host cultural and community events, provide college and peer advising, general education courses for first-year students, and academic counseling,” he said in an email interview. 

Lagunas, along with Raíces and the faculty from the Cartwright Learning Resources Center, coordinated with City College to celebrate the Hispanic community during Hispanic Heritage Month in 2023, working towards the program’s goal.

“I believe that SBCC has embraced their HSI identity by making our designation more visible, such as adding an HSI logo and an HSI informative webpage,” Lagunas said. “We also have a committee to promote and coordinate events during Hispanic Heritage Month in the fall semester.”

Along with the new website, Raíces works as the Latinx cultural and resource center at City College, located in the West Campus Center, Room 206.

“I believe students from the Latine population have become more visible and engaged in academic opportunities and activities,” Lagunas said. “Being considered an HSI is important to me because recognition increases awareness of gaps in service and support for students from this population.”

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