Bank of America, in collaboration with the San Diego Foundation, have provided a two-year grant totaling $500,000 that will support 200 Latinx students preparing for careers in health care in a concerted effort to improve the pipeline for Latinx representation in the field’s workforce.

In a partnership with the consulting firm EAB, Bank of America selected 12 Hispanic-Serving Institutions across the U.S. including San Diego State University for its Progresando Initiative, created to accelerate the path for Hispanic/Latinx students in higher education seeking to advance their health care careers.

At San Diego State University, the grants will support a newly created support system to remove financial obstacles for students seeking degrees, and to provide specialized advice for navigating the higher-ed system. The program is open to all SDSU students and the effort is expected to improve retention and graduation rates for Latinx students both in undergraduate and graduate programs. 

“We’ve just hired an individual who will run the program and serve as coordinator and retention specialist,” said Emilio Ulloa, associate chief diversity officer for HSI and Regional Affairs at SDSU. “We’re going to be positioning this program to focus attention on this cohort of students and connect them to the wealth of resources we have on campus, in sciences and health and human services, and student affairs.”

SDSU was designated a Hispanic-Serving Institution in 2012 after the Hispanic portion of its student population crossed 25%. That figure has since increased to about 33% for undergraduate and graduate enrollment combined.

Nationally, however, Latinx individuals account for only about 6% of the health care workforce, according to BofA, far short of their 19% makeup in the U.S. population as a whole.

“San Diego is home to some of the nation’s premier health care institutions, and our Progresando program helps create pathways to fulfilling careers for SDSU’s Hispanic and SWC’s Hispanic student population,” said Rick Bregman, president, Bank of America San Diego, in announcing the grant. “The shortage of healthcare workers is likely to increase over the next few years and we are thrilled to be able to help Hispanic students be part of the solution while creating better futures for themselves.”

The BofA grant and the match from San Diego Foundation, the region’s largest conduit for charitable giving, will serve about 200 SDSU students over a two-year period, Ulloa said. 

The lack of equal representation in health care “is a function of systemic inequities that people from these communities are experiencing,” he said. “We’ve got kind of a mismatch in terms of our ability to really support them in a culturally affirming, culturally responsive, culturally appropriate way.”

BofA also announced a $250,000 Progresando grant to Southwestern College in Chula Vista, expected to assist more than 560 students. Four-year institutions and junior colleges in New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, Florida and New Jersey also received Progresando grants.

Besides assistance with tuition and fees for students facing financial hardship, Ulloa said funding could support travel costs to a conference to get a paper published, to offset the costs of shadowing a health professional, or the cost for a licensing exam. The program also will help students with counseling and career services, including finding internships, among other forms of support.

An advisory committee that includes representatives of the County of San Diego has been established to assist in implementing the initiative. A next step will be recruiting students to participate.

Students seeking additional information on eligibility for the program may email Ulloa at This article will be updated with additional contact information when it becomes available.

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