Posted by Maria Pastrana Lujan, Senior Advisor, White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics
On November 18, 2015, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics launched its Bright Spots in Hispanic Education Google+ Hangout sessions. The inaugural event highlighted the tremendous efforts of Bright Spots focused on college access for all students, in including Latino and undocumented students around the country. Executive Director, Alejandra Ceja and U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid, Leslie Acosta, were joined by representatives from Bright Spots in Arizona, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Texas on a dynamic and informative discussion featuring promising practices and strategies supporting college access and other efforts helping reduce the academic achievement gap for Hispanics.
This year, the national high school graduation rate rose to 81 percent, the highest in history, in part due to the high numbers of Latino students graduating. Ensuring they have access to a postsecondary education and providing them the tools and resources to enroll
is critical. The number of Hispanic youth enrolled in college has reached a record high, 2.4 million. However, Hispanics continue to lag other groups when it comes to earning a bachelor’s degree (Pew Research Center, 2015). Bright Spots featured are helping to combat this disparity through their efforts.
“Educators should focus on [college access] as early as the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade” because waiting until the junior or senior year of Latino students can be too late,” Carina Soto, Program Manager, Career and College Clubs.
The approaches vary and are tailored to their student needs. The Unidos Project at the University of New Mexico takes a holistic approach on mentorship, or as they call it, “academic coaching.” The program has seen a historic increase in undergraduate retention rates. College Spring, a California-based organization, is focused on improving SAT scores, navigation of college admissions, and supporting the financial needs of students. Undergraduates have the opportunity to mentor and tutor under supported youth through their personal experience and knowledge while also receiving academic credit. One-by-One, in East Moline, Illinois, motivates 7th and 8th graders by having them visit college campuses and introducing them to community leaders of color to help them envision themselves succeeding.
Bright Spots also heard about the efforts on behalf of the Administration to help increase access and ensure affordability to a postsecondary education. We know that our students cannot wait for the support they need to achieve their dreams of a higher education. It is inspiring to see local, state and national efforts join in what President Obama calls a “shared responsibility.” In order to once again lead the world with the highest number of postsecondary education degree attainment, we must continue working together, learning from one another and expanding access to college and career.
The next Google+ Hangout will take place on Wednesday, December 16, 2015 on Early Learning. We hope you will join us as we work together to move the needle on progress for Hispanic students across the nation.
Participant Bright Spots on Hispanic Education for College Access:
Career and College Clubs (Based in Manhattan Beach, California with sites in Colorado, Texas, Ohio, and Washington D.C.) , College Forward (Austin, Texas), Metas Program (San Jose, California), One-by-One (Glenview Middle School, East Moline, Illinois) Adults Achieving a College Education (AACE) in Rio Salado College (Tempe, Arizona), the University of North Carolina Wilmington Centro Hispano (Wilmington, North Carolina), and Unidos Project (Albuquerque, New Mexico).
U.S. Department of Education college access resources:
College Scorecard: https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/
Financial Student Aid tool kit: http://www.financialaidtoolkit.ed.gov/tk/
Bright Spots in Hispanic Education national catalog:
To view the full engagement video here: https://youtu.be/Qa51AGManKY