The IBM grant ensures the continuation of the HETS e-Mentoring Program, an initiative in which IBM employees have served as online mentors for college students in selected colleges and universities since 2001. The e-Mentoring Program has proven successful in achieving its goals to a modest scale. Since the program began, over 200 students and more than 70 IBM employees have participated in this initiative. In 2003, HETS expanded this program to other corporations like Banco Popular, Hamilton Sundstrand, Destilería Serralles, Tech Heads de PR, Badillo Nazca, and Comstat Rowland.
The e-Mentoring Program is part of the Virtual Plaza (www.virtualplaza.org
), a bilingual web site developed by HETS to harness different Internet technologies and help bridge the digital divide for Hispanic college students. This portal was developed with a grant from the Fund for Improvement of Post Secondary Education (FIPSE) of the US Department of Education, and in-kind contributions of HETS member institutions. With the LAAP grant coming to an end, HETS needs to institutionalize this project and move the website from the private vendor’s server that is hosting it to the consortium’s headquarters at the Inter American University of Puerto Rico. The in-house administration of the Virtual Plaza will empower HETS to manage more effectively the technical features and contents of the portal, and continue enhancing the student support services online.
IBM’s grant consists of wireless laptops, a laser printer and a desktop computer to support the daily operations and the continuous initiatives of the HETS Consortium.
The HETS main office has been located at the Inter American University of Puerto Rico since October 2001. As December 2004, HETS has affiliated with 22 institutions in California, Florida, New Jersey, New York, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Texas, as well as Puerto Rico and its first international member in Colombia.