CICERO – Morton College officials went to the nation's Capitol to see about tapping some funds provided specifically for Hispanic-serving institutions this month.
Trustees Susan Banks and Frank Aguilar held meetings Feb. 12 with members of the Illinois Congressional Delegation to discuss opportunities for additional funding.
Banks and Aguilar met with Senators Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Mark Kirk, R-Ill., and also had meetings with U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Western Springs, to discuss obtaining Title V funding for Morton College.
The two trustees presented each legislator with an official letter from Morton College President Dana Grove urging their support.
Aguilar said the funds would enhance the college’s existing educational services and the main goal of the trip was to speak with legislators to obtain funding for the college.
The federal government sets aside money under Federal Title V guidelines for community colleges, specifically Hispanic Serving Institutions, which Morton College has been federally designated.
Grove said he was very optimistic about the meeting.
"Morton College has a student body that is 80 percent Hispanic, so we certainly qualify," Grove said. "As a matter of fact, we are the seventh largest [community college] in the country, out of 1264, and the largest east of the Mississippi River."
The college had accepted a Title V grant in 2005 it was used for a program that helped Spanish-speaking students complete their degrees, provide one-on-one counseling and mentoring, Grove said, and that boosted graduation rates by 30 percent.
The group also discussed funding to support expanded technical education, programs to address the needs of students who are military veterans, supporting the DREAM ACT, streamlining existing tax credits for families with students in the community college system, and to also provide support for elementary and secondary education institutions which serve as feeders to the community college system.