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Lee Jones
(206) 220-5356
or (804) 363-7018 (cell)
For Release
September 15, 2009


Among Only 10 Hispanic-Serving Colleges & Universities Nationwide to Win $6 Million in Competitive HUD Grants

WASHINGTON - U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan today awarded $600,000 to Columbia Basin College in Pasco and $599,975 to Heritage University in Toppenish to help revitalize neighborhoods, promote affordable housing and stimulate economic development in their communities.

The funding announced today is provided through HUD's Hispanic-Serving Institutions Assisting Communities (HSIAC) Program. Donovan made the announcement to a policy gathering of the Hispanic Congressional Caucus Institute in Washington.

"These Hispanic-serving institutions are devoted to improving the lives of young people as well as helping to revitalize the communities where they serve," said Donovan. "I'm proud HUD and these institutions can come together to do the heavy lifting needed to improve neighborhoods, build affordable housing and stimulate economic progress."

  • Heritage University in Toppenish intends to use its $599,975 HSIAC grant to directly impact the economic conditions of Yakima County and its large Hispanic population through the following three-pronged approach: provide Certified Tourism Ambassador (CTA) training for small businesses; development of an entrepreneur center; and offer predatory lending workshops. It will use its faculty and business students to train local businesses from across Yakima County on tourism knowledge, etiquette, and customer service skills. After participants complete the session, they will become Certified Tourism Ambassadors. The objective is to provide all local businesses that may interact with tourists in any way with an understanding of excellent customer service. The entrepreneur center will be a comprehensive university-supported center serving the region and led by the University’s Business Department. The center will make available the research tools needed to successfully start, manage, and effectively run a small business. A special focus will be access to information on financial resources. Finally, the University will develop a countywide program to encourage local residents and business owners to attend predatory lending educational workshops. They will provide community members first-hand information about avoiding predatory lending practices. Heritage students have also committed to help disseminate information and recruit families and local businesses for these workshops.

  • Columbia Basin College in Pasco will use its $600,000 grant to implement a Façade Improvement, Revitalization and Support Training program. The program will use the expertise of faculty and students, and in partnership with community organizations, address two urgent areas of community development needs - downtown economic revitalization and continuing education. Faculty and students will work collaboratively with the Pasco Downtown Development Association and the City of Pasco to develop a comprehensive marketing plan to increase the business traffic flow in the downtown business core. Efforts will include enhancing existing downtown events, creating promotional materials, establishing marketing strategies, and identifying new opportunities. Additionally, student design teams supervised by CBC faculty and local architecture firms will work with local downtown businesses to design and construct improved storefronts. CBC will collaborate with the PDDA, Tri Cities Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Small Business Development Center, the City of Pasco, and downtown merchants to develop a customized curriculum of bilingual business seminars. Seminars designed for participants will consist of six seminars offered quarterly.

To qualify for funding, at least 25 percent of the institution's full-time undergraduate student population must be Hispanic. In addition, all applicants must offer two- or four-year degrees that are fully accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. HUD's grants will help these institutions undertake a wide variety of activities, particularly those that benefit lower income residents. These activities may include:

  • Acquiring property;

  • Demolishing blighted structures;

  • Rehabilitating homes, including cleaning up lead-based paint hazards and making modifications that improve accessibility;

  • Improving public facilities such as water and sewer systems;

  • Providing downpayment and closing cost assistance to low- and moderate-income homebuyers;

  • Offering assistance to small businesses, including minority-owned enterprises;

  • Assisting community-based development organizations to carry out neighborhood revitalization; and

  • Supporting public services such as job training, child care, fair housing, and housing counseling.

The Hispanic-Serving Institutions Assisting Communities (HSIAC) Program is one of several initiatives administered by HUD's Office of University Partnerships (OUP). Established in 1994, OUP is a catalyst for partnering colleges and universities with their communities in an effort to address local problems. For more information about HUD's partnership with institutions of higher learning, visit HUD's website.


HUD is the nation's housing agency committed to sustaining homeownership; creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans; and supporting the homeless, elderly, people with disabilities and people living with AIDS. The Department also promotes economic and community development and enforces the nation's fair housing laws. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at www.hud.gov and espanol.hud.gov.

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