La Salle’s BUSCA program receives NEH grant for humanities-focused bridge program

April 25, 2023

The ALTA program is a 15-week, college-readiness program to support Spanish-speaking students in enhancing English proficiency.  

The National Endowment for Humanities awarded La Salle University a grant to fund a humanities-focused bridge program.  

The Spotlight on Humanities in Higher Education grant will support the Access Language Through Academics (ALTA) program, an initiative through the Bilingual Undergraduate Studies for Collegiate Advancement (BUSCA) program at La Salle. According to Joanne Woods, La Salle’s BUSCA program director, ALTA will serve as a 15-week college-readiness program for Spanish-speaking students who are seeking entry to La Salle’s BUSCA program and who need support enhancing their English proficiency prior to entering the University. 

The NEH grant supports “smaller humanities projects at small- to medium-sized two- and four-year higher education institutions that benefit underserved populations.” A total of 30 spotlight grants were awarded this year, a value of $1.51 million. 

La Salle BUSCA program director Joanne Woods

“BUSCA’s mission is to serve the Hispanic community and to give them the English proficiency they need to make them bilingual professionals,” said Woods.  

The BUSCA program is a four-semester associate of arts degree program at La Salle University. Bilingual students are supported by faculty and staff in developing their foundational knowledge, improving their academic and language skills, deepening their intellectual curiosity, and increasing their self-confidence. Classes are offered at night and BUSCA graduates can transfer their credits toward a bachelor’s degree at La Salle.  

Woods said ALTA came to be as a means of supporting Spanish-speaking students who need additional assistance prior to entering La Salle and the BUSCA program. ALTA is a 15-week program that will strengthen students’ English language skills and prepare them to enter BUSCA, if desired. Through the NEH grant, all students can study this fall in ALTA free of charge.  

Vicki Ketz, Ph.D.

“Every year we get applications from highly promising students who need more English language proficiency before entering our highly respected and unique BUSCA program,” said Pamela Barnett, Ph.D., School of Arts and Sciences dean. “We have never wanted to turn students away, so my colleagues in BUSCA envisioned a new path. More students will be able to earn La Salle degrees thanks to the NEH and to the La Salle leaders who wrote the grant, Jodi Woods and Vicki Ketz, Ph.D. (Professor of Spanish and Chair of Global Languages, Literatures, and Perspectives).” 

Woods said the goal is to begin ALTA this fall with a cohort of 20 students in the hopes that they will demonstrate the necessary skills to enter the BUSCA Program in the spring. 

“These programs provide interested students a path to get an associate degree and then a bachelor’s degree from La Salle University,” Woods said.  

—Meg Ryan   

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities. 

This project has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Spotlight on Humanities.