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Project Stepping Stone of Indiana aims to boost Latino college enrollment

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Getting Latinos in Indiana into college — that’s what one group aims to do with the help of a special one-week summer program.

According to the 2021 Indiana College Equity report, only 49 percent of Hispanic high school graduates go to college compared to 61 percent of white students. Project Stepping Stone of Indiana (PSS) wants to change that.

Project Stepping Stone of Indiana is a program of the Escala Foundation that helps Indiana’s Latino students prepare for college and beyond.

“We’re trying to work to make sure that our students are going to school, and then also staying here as well because the talent pipeline, they’re going right through it, and our corporate partners,” Marcela Cabello, a board member of Escala Foundation, said.

It’s a one-week program in June. About 100 students will get to visit different college campuses like IUPUI, Marian University, University of Notre Dame, and Indiana State University.

Hannah Romero de Gante is a sophomore at IUPUI. She says there weren’t enough resources around, but the program opened new doors for her.

“I felt that I didn’t have much opportunities with scholarships being a Hispanic student, and then PSS opened the world for me and my sister since my parents were taking two girls at the same time to college,” Romero de Gante said.

The students will also hear from educators on what each university offers, as well as get information about financial aid, interview skills, and much more.

“We were able to ask all these questions and get so many answers, but also feel comfortable with asking questions, and we weren’t embarrassed to be a Latino student who can pursue secondary education,” Romero de Gante said.

“We’ve seen the results. Not only are our students going into college. I’d say around 85% of Project Stepping Stone students enroll in university, either four year or two year institutions, and then we’re seeing them graduate,” Cabello said.

The application deadline for Project Stepping Stone is April 22. Students who are interested in applying can go online for the application.