Ally Financial Supports Weber State’s Initiative as Emerging Hispanic-Serving Institution

OGDEN, Utah – A new $500,000 grant from Ally Financial Inc. (NYSE: ALLY) will help Weber State University in its commitment to become an Emerging Hispanic Serving Institution (EHSI). The announcement marks the end of Hispanic Heritage Month.

In its 2021 strategic plan, Weber State Amplified, a 5-year plan for growth, the university committed to increasing the percentage of students who identify as Hispanic or Latinx descent to 15% by 2025.

“For Utah to maintain its status as a leader in economic growth and vibrancy, demographic trends suggest that gaps in educational access, completion and workforce preparedness between students of color and white students must be eliminated,” said University President Brad Mortensen. “We appreciate Ally’s investment to help Weber State meet future workforce demands through educating all of Utah’s residents in greater numbers, particularly those who are underserved presently.”

Reaching EHSI status is a step to becoming designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) as defined by the U.S. Department of Education, which requires a 25% Hispanic/Latinx enrollment. The HSI designation shows that WSU is a welcoming place for all students of color. Additionally, Latinx students would be eligible to apply for scholarships, paid internships and leadership development opportunities. The designation also would allow WSU to apply for additional grants and funding from the federal government

Through Ally’s sponsorship, WSU will accelerate its efforts to improve access, retention and completion and achieve the EHSI enrollment target.

“Ally’s support of Weber State is a part of our organization’s deep commitment to creating pathways to economic mobility in diverse communities,” said Jan Bergeson, Ally executive director and Community Reinvestment Act Officer. “Making higher education more accessible is key to helping students in underserved and underrepresented communities improve their career opportunities and financial trajectory.”

Weber State will use the grant money to establish an HSI Initiatives Office that will report to the Office of the President and will have an executive director to evaluate existing university efforts, identify gaps and coordinate resources for underserved students. 

The effort will include increasing diversity of faculty and staff and broadening curriculum to be more inclusive and aligned with Hispanic/Latinx culture and history. The university will expand its outreach to students and families in public schools to reinforce the culture and importance of postsecondary education. Weber State will also work to eliminate barriers in policies and processes that inhibit attendance.

In fall 2021, approximately 11% of WSU’s enrollment identified as Hispanic/Latinx and enrollments have hovered in that range for the last five years with a slight upward trend.

Data from the 2020 Census show that about 52% of Utah's population growth between 2010 and 2020 was driven by minority populations. The Hispanic/Latinx population accounted for 26.5% of statewide population growth. Among counties in Utah, Weber County at 18.6% trails only Salt Lake County at 19.6% in the share of population that identifies as Hispanic/Latinx. 

Ogden School District is one of two majority-minority school districts in Utah and the only one driven by the large Hispanic/Latinx community. The other district, San Juan, is majority-minority because of its Native American population.

In 2019, a total 29.7% of Ogden School District graduates went on to enroll in postsecondary education. This compares to a state average of 46.5%. This shows potential to improve college-participation rates among the large Hispanic/Latinx community in Ogden School District.

WSU has several programs and initiatives that support outreach, advising, retention, financial aid and degree completion for Hispanic/Latinx populations. Programs, advising, financial aid and scholarships, clubs, services and other support offered by the Office of Access & Diversity and Center for Multicultural Excellence seek to increase higher education access, persistence and graduation rates for underrepresented students. Many programs in these areas are targeted to address specific needs within Hispanic/Latinx communities. For example, in 2018, WSU opened the Community Education Center on the corner of 26th and Monroe in central Ogden with the mission to help underserved members of the community access postsecondary education. 

“As a dual-mission, regional university, WSU provides open-enrollment access to two-year degree programs like a traditional community college, coupled with a breadth of bachelor’s degrees and select graduate programs to meet regional needs,” Mortensen explained. “Thus, the Emerging HSI target in the strategic plan aligns with, and some might say, is required by the open-access mission of WSU, considering regional demographics.”

In commemoration of Hispanic Heritage Month, at its Oct. 12 council meeting (pictured above), Ogden City recognized Weber State and the director of Access & Diversity, Enrique Romo, for efforts “to embrace Hispanic-Latino cultures and improve immigrant integration.”

About Weber State University

As an open-admission university, Weber State provides an accessible, impactful education that transforms lives by meeting students where they are, challenging and guiding them to achieve their goals academically and in life. More than 29,000 students attend from some of Utah’s most ethnically and economically diverse cities. In 2021, Weber State ranked at #19 on the list of “Most Affordable with Best Return” colleges in the country. Weber State cultivates remarkably personalized teaching, mentoring and engaged learning with seven colleges, 225 undergraduate certificate and degree programs and 17 graduate degrees. Outside the classroom, students participate in 175 clubs, cheer on 16 NCAA teams and enjoy a wide array of cultural events.

About Ally Financial Inc.

Ally Financial Inc. (NYSE: ALLY) is a digital financial services company committed to its promise to "Do It Right" for its consumer, commercial and corporate customers. Ally is composed of an industry-leading independent auto finance and insurance operation, an award-winning digital direct bank (Ally Bank, Member FDIC and Equal Housing Lender, which offers mortgage lending, point-of-sale personal lending, and a variety of deposit and other banking products), a corporate finance business for equity sponsors and middle-market companies, and securities brokerage and investment advisory services. A relentless ally for all things money, Ally helps people save well and earn well, so they can spend for what matters. For more information, please visit and follow @allyfinancial.

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Allison Hess, director of Public Relations
801-626-7948 •


Allison Hess, director of Public Relations
801-626-7948 •