The first week of October saw Chemeketa Community College receiving two important U.S. Department of Education grants that together total more than $3 Million.

U. S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden promoted the first. With the aim of helping increase graduation rates for Hispanic students and expanding their educational opportunities, it totals $2,409,453 over five years.

Called a Title V Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions Program grant, the overall goal of the program is to help eligible colleges and universities improve their capacity to serve Hispanic and low-income students.

The significant grant was advanced by Merkley and Wyden. The senators wrote a letter on July 17 to U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, critiquing the Department’s handling of Chemeketa’s 2017 application for the same funding.

Chemeketa had requested information on its failure to obtain funding in 2017, and, in its review of the Department of Education’s documents, noticed inconsistencies. But the college’s requests for clarification to the Department were ignored and when the offices of Merkley and Wyden themselves requested clarification, the Department of Education said the concerns Chemeketa had identified were not “substantive issues.”

At that point, Merkley and Wyden requested a thorough investigation into the matter, including asking how the Department of Education accounted for the apparently inconsistent evaluations and scoring of Chemeketa’s application.

The news of the college’s successful 2018 application delighted both the college and the two senators.

“I’m proud to have fought for this grant so Chemeketa can continue building on its great work helping Hispanic students achieve in the classroom and graduate,” Wyden said. “The school earned this federal investment because it demonstrates daily the power of diversity in higher education by striving with its offerings to include students of all backgrounds.”

“We supported this grant application because we knew that the Hispanic students at Chemeketa Community College deserved it,” Merkley said. “As the first in my family to go to college, I know the culture shock and logistical hurdles that some of these students face. With this investment, a significant portion of the student body will have important support systems that will help pave the way for success.”

With a student body that is 27% Hispanic, Chemeketa will put the much-needed federal resources to good use. “On behalf of everyone at Chemeketa, I am extremely grateful for this funding opportunity made possible by Senator Merkley’s and Senator Wyden’s advocacy,” said Julie Huckestein, President and CEO of Chemeketa Community College. “These grant dollars will directly impact Chemeketa students by increasing the support systems that improve student success and completion.”

The second grant Chemeketa received this month comes through its Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CCAMPIS) program. The program helps Pell Grant-eligible parents attain a post-secondary education with the support of campus-based childcare services, such as Chemeketa’s Child Development Center. The grant totals $645,788 and will be awarded with $161,447 annual payments over four years.

Huckestein calls the funding of both grants “a significant investment in our students and the Chemeketa community.”

In addition to its location on Lancaster NE in Salem, Chemeketa Community College has campuses in McMinnville and education centers in Dallas, Brooks, and Woodburn.


Photo at top: Chemeketa students enjoy the fall colors on campus
Photo by Terri Jacobsen