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$1.48M AANAPI Grant helps Metropolitan State serve ‘Asian Minnesotan’ students

Saint Paul, Minnesota— Metropolitan State University is pleased to announce it has been recognized for its commitment to equity and inclusion with an award from the U.S. Department of Education. The university is recognized as an Asian American Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution and is the only four-year institution in the Minnesota State system to receive this grant.

Metropolitan State recognizes the importance and significance that education plays in the lives of minority and first-generation college students. The University is a minority-serving institution (MSI) with 53% student diversity and ranks 35th of 1,458 institutions nationally in the Social Mobility Index—an assessment of the impact of a university’s education in lifting its students to higher socio-economic levels after graduation. Metropolitan State also received the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award and has been designated as an Asian American Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution (AANAPISI) in recent years.

Minnesota is home to about 350,000 people of Asian American Native American Pacific Islander heritage, about 6% percent of the state, who live in more than 40 cultural communities under the label “Asian” or “Asian Minnesotan.” The student population of Metropolitan State who identify under the Asian American Native American Pacific Islander designation is 14 percent. Metropolitan State is well positioned to lead the fast-growing APIA community to a brighter future through better education.

This program-based grant of $1.48 million over the next five years will be used to improve and expand Metropolitan State’s capacity to serve Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander students. The AANAPISI Program provides grants to eligible institutions of higher education (IHEs) to enable them to improve and expand their capacity to serve Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander students. Institutions may use these grants to plan, develop, or implement activities that strengthen services to students.

Metropolitan State has identified three goals — Promote Cultural Awareness and Competency, Advance Career Readiness, and Connect Graduates and Students — to better support and engage our Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander students and community.

“These focus areas were identified after reviewing academic scholarship about the activities that have significant, positive impacts for students who identify as students of color, and through learning more about the experiences of our Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander students from faculty and staff,” says Amy Gort, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs. “Our deliberations led us to choosing multiple, impactful approaches to enhance the experience of our students and connections to the community.”

The grant enables the university to sponsor more cultural and career events, extend further outreach to community organizations and area schools with high populations of AANAPI students, and provide additional cultural competency training for staff and faculty who directly serve students.

Metropolitan State will also develop career readiness by providing culturally relevant tutoring and mentorship specific to AANAPI students; improve training in financial literacy; and develop career events that cater to the AANAPI community. Students will have a better understanding of the course curriculum and potential career connections as a result of this programming, and therefore improve their success at finding a career related to their interest and education.

The University will also develop robust connections with our graduates by supporting ongoing programs for alumni, forming mentorship networks between alumni and students, and building actionable data about graduates that can be used to improve the educational experience for our Asian American students.

These goals of Promoting Cultural Support and Competency, Advancing Career Readiness and Connecting Graduates and Students will increase the success of our Asian American students and prepare them for fulfilling careers, lifelong learning and community engagement.

A team drawn from across the university wrote the winning proposal. "This team worked so well together to create a proposal that focused on, what we believe, to be the most critical components of attracting new AANAPI students to Metropolitan State and seeing them through to graduation,” says Bobbie Anderson, Associate Provost for Student Success. “We hope as they become alum of the university, we will also be able to engage them in the ongoing support for new and continuing students. I'm so excited to get the various components moving over the next month and over the next five years."

Metropolitan State University, a member of Minnesota State, is the Twin Cities public, urban, comprehensive state university providing lifelong learning, and competitive academic and professional degree programs at the bachelor, master and doctoral levels.