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Zooming in on Hispanic-Serving Institutions—and New HSI Partners Ready to Close the Tech Gap with Netflix

Written by Patrick L. Valdez, Ph.D. | José L. Santos, Ph.D. on Jun 23, 2021

Related content: Diversity And Inclusion, Strategic Partnerships

St. Edward's University

Despite our rapid growth in the U.S., the Latina/o/x¹ community remains vastly underrepresented in a number of key areas, including access to quality housing, health, and education. With respect to post-secondary education, just over 22% of Latina/o/x adults have earned some form of college degree, whether that’s an associate degree or beyond. To put this in perspective, the current average degree attainment level of Latinas/os/x is 10% lower than that of white adults in 1990—which was more than 30 years ago.² Moreover, we continue to be underrepresented in several industries including the tech sector, where Latinas/os/x account for only 8% of the workforce.

These sobering figures are a clarion call to urgently identify and equip Latina/o/x professionals with the necessary skills to be more competitive in tech careers. The new partnerships that 2U and Netflix are embarking on with Marymount University and St. Edward’s University—both designated as Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs)—are part of a smart, effective, and proven strategy to help increase diversity in the field. Through the expansion of the Netflix Pathways Boot Camps to these world-class universities, HSI students and alumni can equip themselves with top tech employers’ most sought-after skills and face the job market with confidence.

Marymount University

A Closer Look at HSIs and Why They’re Important

Part of a broader collective of higher education institutions known as Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs), the HSI designation was passed into law by Congress in 1992³. This federal designation came after 15 years of advocacy (1976-1992) by Latina/o/x civic and higher education leaders. These diligent advocates wanted to ensure that federal appropriations would be available to historically underfunded institutions with a Latina/o/x student enrollment of 25% or higher.

In general, federal funding is awarded through a grant application process that supports institutional programs and services designed to address the challenges that many first-generation Latina/o/x students face. These programs and services primarily focus on increasing awareness and understanding of the college application and financial aid process. They also provide academic advising on guided pathways, from First-Year Experience (FYE) cohorts to mentoring and tutoring designed to increase retention and graduation.

The campus of St. Edward's University with Austin, Texas, in the background

HSIs by the Numbers

Since their legal designation was implemented, HSIs have quickly grown in number:

  • At the end of 2020, there were 569 HSIs in 30 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico, representing 18% of all higher education institutions in the U.S.
  • In the past 10 years alone, HSIs have increased a staggering 94%, up from 293 in 2010.
  • Nearly half of all HSIs are geographically concentrated in four locations: California (175), Texas (100), Puerto Rico (64), and New York (35).
  • 56% of all HSIs are four-year institutions (30% private + 26% public) while 44% are two-year (41% public + 3% private).
  • 362 additional institutions have been identified as “emerging HSIs” (eHSIs), with their Hispanic full-time undergraduate enrollments falling anywhere from 15% to 24.9%.⁴
  • Interesting to note: Not only do HSIs enroll two-thirds of today’s 3.8 million Latina/o/x college students, they also enroll more African-Americans than all Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) combined, more American Indians than all Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) combined, and more than 40% of all Asian-Americans enrolled in college today.
Marymount University is located in Arlington, Virginia

Rapid HSI growth can primarily be attributed to the increasing Latina/o/x population throughout the U.S. According to the Pew Research Center, for the ten years between 2010-2019:

  • The U.S. population increased by 18.9 million, with Hispanics accounting for more than half (52%) of this growth.
  • The total number of Hispanics in the U.S. reached a record 60.6 million, or 18% of the population—up from 50.7 million (16%) at the start of the decade.
  • The biggest increases occurred in Texas (2 million), California (1.5 million) and Florida (1.4 million).

Naturally, this population growth has also led to more Latinas/os/x graduating from college. The future and prosperity of our nation clearly rests with how well we educate a population of students who’ve been historically underrepresented in higher education. HSIs are uniquely positioned to play that vital role.

University of Central Florida is an example of another HSI-designated 2U partner

The Power and Promise of Creative and Collaborative Partnerships

With any HSI, offering programs and services that support the persistence and graduation of Latina/o/x students is key. This includes providing opportunities that extend well beyond the classroom and campus. All of these efforts are amplified when an HSI’s goals are tied to regional workforce development. College-to-career pathways are crucial to Latina/o/x students and employers, paramount to the economic development and viability of a region, and critical to the success of any industry. Innovative public-private partnerships between universities and employers, which focus on meeting both the needs of the student and the company, help open more doors for Latinas/os/x into careers where they’re underrepresented.

By expanding our Netflix Pathways Boot Camps to include HSI partners, 2U and Netflix are creating skills-based curriculum, mentorship guidance, and professional development opportunities to help close gaps that have existed historically and disproportionality between Latinas/os/x and the tech industry. These new partnerships become even more critical when we consider that, on average, HSIs only receive 68 cents for every dollar that goes to all other colleges and universities annually, per student, through federal funding sources.

Arizona State University is an example of an emerging HSI (eHSI) 2U partner

At 2U, our commitment to increasing the number of Latinas/os/x in tech comes at a time when 67% of those attending college are enrolled at HSIs, and when 46% of students enrolled at HSIs are Latina/o/x. Like the students they serve and the regions they’re located in, HSIs are not a monolith—they span from community colleges to four-year universities, from small to large, and from public to private. In some cases, a majority of a university system’s schools are designated as HSIs, such as 21 of the 23 campuses in the California State University System and five of 10 campuses in the University of California System.

In addition to Marymount University and St. Edward’s University, 2U’s other four HSI-designated partners are University of Arizona, University of California Irvine, University of Central Florida, and University of Texas San Antonio, while our 15 eHSI-designated partners range from Arizona State University to MIT. We’re eager to continue growing these partnerships in order to reflect as wide a range of HSI diversity as possible.

St. Edward's University

A Snapshot of Our Two New HSI Partners

From the start, we set our sights on Marymount and St. Edward’s because their respective leaderships are intentional about the success of Latina/o/x students, for both graduation and post-graduation outcomes. Both of their leaders were very enthusiastic when we first approached them about expanding our Netflix Pathways Boot Camps. These universities also have a number of emerging and established engineering programs from which to draw existing students and recent alumni.

Located in Arlington, Virginia, Marymount University just became an HSI late last year; it’s the only four-year HSI in all of D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. Meanwhile, Austin, Texas-based St. Edward’s University has been an HSI for decades; it’s also home to the longest continuous College Assistant Migrant Program (CAMP) in the country. Since 1972, CAMP has served over 2,800 students, largely Hispanic and first-generation.

These exciting new partnerships are not merely a magnanimous initiative, but one that reflects 2U’s guiding principles to “Make Service Our Mission” and “Give a Damn.” Together with Netflix and all of our HSI partners, we’re creating Latina/o/x pathways and career inroads that will undoubtedly enrich the tech industry. Our boot camp expansion will also surely help invigorate a workforce to more accurately reflect the dynamic diversity of our nation’s current and future population. This speaks to another 2U guiding principle: “Don’t Let the Skeptic Win,” which will lead to innovations in how and where Latina/o/x talent is discovered, harnessed, and given the opportunity to shine.


¹ We are using the terms Latina/o/x and Hispanic interchangeably in our article. Hispanic is the term used for official U.S. Census reporting and some other organizations such as HACU. We are using Latina/o/x to be as inclusive as possible.

² U.S. Census, American College Survey, 2016

³ Higher Education Amendments of 1992 that amended the Higher Education Act (HEA) of 1965

Excelencia in Education (2021), HSI Infographic 2019-20

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