April 24, 2020

Chris de Hoyos

HACU hosts first virtual National Capitol Forum on Hispanic Higher Education

The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities hosted its 25th Annual National Capitol Forum on Hispanic Higher Education as a virtual event on April 21-22, 2020. This marked the first time the Capitol Forum was held as a virtual event. Two pre-conference online events were held the day prior to the Capitol Forum.

A record attendance of more than 200 higher education and student advocates were among the registrants. Approximately 60 congressional teleconference and virtual meetings were scheduled for participants to help make the case for Hispanic-Serving Institutions and discuss legislative priorities, as part of the Association’s Legislative Agenda.

The two free pre-conference sessions provided information about federal grant funding opportunities available for Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs). Representatives from U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Education, and National Science Foundation were among the workshop presenters.

The Opening Plenary featured the Honorable Diane Auer Jones, principal deputy undersecretary at the U.S. Department of Education, who spoke to participants about current topics and initiatives the department is focusing on. Funding for Hispanic-Serving Institutions under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was among the topics discussed at the Forum and during the Hill meetings. The bill allocates $214.53 million specifically for HSIs under Title V, which is based on the proportion of funding that HSIs were appropriated in FY 2020 discretionary funding. HACU continues to work with the U.S. Department of Education to ensure the approved emergency funding is distributed to HSIs as soon as possible.

Some of the topics discussed at the Forum included the impact of HSIs in building America’s workforce and the implications of the changing demographics of the country on the upcoming 2020 elections. The Hispanic Educational Resources and Empowerment (HERE) Act of 2019, which addresses the lingering achievement gaps among Hispanic students, and the importance of PK-12 and higher education collaboration was also discussed.

The sessions were focused on HACU’s legislative priorities to help prepare participants for the virtual state delegation visits with congressional offices. A student advocacy workshop was also offered.

On the second day of the Forum, U.S. Representative Joaquin Castro gave remarks during the "HSI Policy Update from Congressional Leaders" session as well as his legislative assistant and U.S. Representative Raúl Grijalva’s legislative director. Following this, delegations from colleges and universities met via teleconference with their representatives and staffers to advocate for funding for Hispanic-Serving Institutions.

Advocates were encouraged to ask their representatives to consider funding MSIs in future stimulus packages; support and co-sponsor the HERE Act; and join the Congressional HSI Caucus, which will be essential for advocating for federal resources for HSIs during the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. A copy of HACU’s 2020 Legislative Agenda is available here.   

HACU thanks sponsors of the Capitol Forum American Federation of Teachers, Educational Testing Service (ETS), Southwest Airlines and U.S. Army ROTC.

HACU’s 26th National Capitol Forum on Hispanic Higher Education is scheduled for April 13-14, 2021, at the Washington Court Hotel, in Washington, D.C.