Nonprofit Group Steps Up Campaign to Get More Hispanic Students to Complete College

September 08, 2010

Excelencia in Education expects to announce on Wednesday several plans to accelerate its national efforts to improve college completion among Hispanics, the fastest-growing minority group in the United States.

Fifty groups will be joining the campaign, the nonprofit organization will say. Among them are the National Governors Association, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and Maricopa Community Colleges.

The organizations will assist Excelencia in drafting a policy road map to achieve the increase. Excelencia plans to unveil the policy document in March.

President Obama has set an ambitious goal for the United States to become the top-ranked country in the world in college-degree attainment by 2020. To reach that, 3.3 million more Hispanic people than are now projected to complete college would have to earn degrees by 2020, according to Excelencia. Right now, Hispanic people represent about 15 percent of the population of the United States and 12 percent of undergraduate students in higher education.

Young adults who are Hispanic are less likely to be enrolled in college than are other young adults, according to a policy brief that Excelencia was also scheduled to release on Wednesday. In 2008 the college-going rate for Hispanic high-school graduates between the ages of 18 and 24 was 37 percent. That compared with 40 percent of black high-school graduates of the same age and 49 percent of white high-school graduates. For all 18- to 24-years-olds, the proportion of Hispanic people enrolled in college was 26 percent, compared with 32 percent of black people and 44 percent of white people.

"We know everyone has to increase their numbers, but we have so much farther to go," Deborah A. Santiago, vice president for policy and research at Excelencia, said of the Hispanic population.

Excelencia will also release a statistical report on Wednesday that examines the current condition of Hispanics in higher education compared with other racial and ethnic groups.

As part of its national efforts, Excelencia plans to track the college-completion progress of Hispanic, black, and white students on an annual basis. It will use the statistical report as a baseline.

"If our work doesn't lead to action, then we are not being successful," Ms. Santiago said.