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December 4, 2014

NJ Revilla-Garcia

HACU reconfirms commitment to expand college access as part of White House College Opportunity Day of Action

San Antonio, TX – The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities’ (HACU) President and CEO Antonio R. Flores has issued the following statement on today’s White House College Opportunity Day of Action.

“HACU applauds President Obama and the Administration for calling attention to the higher education needs of currently underserved young people through the White House College Opportunity Day of Action. We are glad to see the invitation list expanded for this meeting to include more of the institutions that in fact serve as gateways to a better life for many students pursuing the American Dream.”

Among those in attendance at today's event in Washington, D.C., is Tomás D. Morales, chair of HACU's Governing Board and president of California State University, San Bernardino. President Obama, Vice President Biden, and the First Lady joined college presidents and other education leaders from around the nation, to announce new actions to help more students prepare for and graduate from college.

Today’s participants were challenged to commit to a new action in one of four areas: building networks of colleges focused on promoting completion, creating K-16 partnerships around college readiness, investing in high school counselors as part of the First Lady’s Reach Higher initiative, and increasing the number of college graduates in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).

“HACU is working with the President and his Administration to continue to strengthen the capacity of Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) to enroll and help our nation’s most vulnerable students succeed in higher education.  As the nation’s only organized voice for HSIs, we are especially committed to continuing to engage elected officials from both sides of the aisle at the national and local levels to ensure HSIs get the resources they need to help more Hispanic students to pursue their higher education goals. This growing set of institutions enrolls more than half the Hispanics in higher education today and a disproportionate share of low income and first generation students. But they labor to serve these populations with only two-thirds the federal funding per student that other institutions receive. If we really want education to be a driver of upward economic mobility and a mechanism for assuring the educated workforce of the 21st century, the nation needs to invest in those institutions that are serving those who stand to benefit the most.”

HACU’s commitment includes increasing the number of Hispanic students entering the STEM fields. A newly developed HACU STEM Taskforce held its first of four meetings Oct. 7, 2014, to collaborate on the development of policy and practice recommendations for increasing Hispanic participation in STEM. Two Latino STEM Summits to prepare students for STEM careers were held in California last spring and Texas this fall. More are planned for 2015.

HACU is also committed to creating more and wider collaborations between Hispanic-Serving School Districts (HSSDs) and HSIs throughout the nation in order to improve the cradle to career pipeline. Since 1996, HACU’s Youth Leadership Development Forum offered in conjunction with its National Annual Conferences have brought more than 14,000 students talented middle and high school students to local college campuses to learn about college readiness, admissions and financing. HACU in partnership with the U.S. Army has also sponsored college tours in various cities with the same goal of introducing underserved youth to campus life as a way to promote further opportunities for higher education.

“Recognizing that many of our member institutions of higher education have been actively engaged with their local PK-12 school districts, HACU is planning a symposium for its 2015 Annual Conference to highlight and promote these successful PK-12/HSI collaborations, with a view to stimulating further and richer collaborations all across the country.”

“HACU recognizes that there is much work to be done in this field. We applaud the work of our member institutions who have long been the nation’s primary access to higher education and professional careers for Hispanics and other underserved students. We are pleased that the rest of the higher education community is deepening and broadening its commitments to serve these too often overlooked student populations.”

About HACU

The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) represents approximately 450 colleges and universities committed to Hispanic higher education success in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Latin America and Spain. For more information, visit www.hacu.net