Hispanic Heritage Month: Two Latinas are working together to create a pipeline of diversity in STEM
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young Hispanic woman in lab coat with technology equipment behind her

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, collectively known as STEM make up the fastest-growing and highest paid fields in the U.S. with diverse job opportunities in careers ranging from aerospace engineers, programmer to operations director, yet Latinas only account for 3% of the industry.

Unfortunately, many Latinas are discouraged from pursuing STEM careers and loose interest in these disciplines as early as middle school. This is why early intervention curriculums like the ones provided by XYLO Academy are key to increasing the representation of Latinas in the STEM workforce.

Getting to college is another challenge as underrepresented students face steep costs and challenges to higher education. According to a recent study published in the journal Education Researcher Latino college students drop out of STEM programs at higher rates (37%) that their white peers (27%).

Continual increases in tuition and fees have pushed the cost of college education beyond the means of most minority and underrepresented students. This is why IO Scholarships offers free access to scholarships and financial education so high school, undergraduate and graduate students can find life-changing scholarships where their diverse background is valued.

Despite all the challenges, these two Latinas are working together to fix the leaking pipeline, providing scholarships, and creating STEM curriculums for women of color.

Gabriela Forter
Co-founder XYLO Academy

Gabriela Forter headshot

Born and raised in the California San Joaquin Valley, Gabriela’s first introduction to entrepreneurship was during a course with Professor Rostamian at UCLA in 2015. This class significantly shaped not only her academic interests but also her career path. Gabriela and Professor Rostamian have now launched XYLO Academy to scale this same impact. After spending two and a half years at Deloitte Consulting, Gabriela joined Facebook, focusing on Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence.  She is confident that the most meaningful changes in society will come from advancements in disruptive innovations and seeks to inspire students to pursue careers in STEM. She is committed to increasing diversity in STEM and believes that change starts with education.

“Our goal at XYLO Academy is to educate students on disruptive innovation and inspire them to pursue degrees and careers in STEM and with our partnership with IO Scholarships we are creating a pipeline for these students to have access to the best scholarships in STEM and realize their dreams.”

María Trochimezuk
Founder IO Scholarships

María Trochimezuk headshot

Her determination and hard work paid off as she won grants and scholarships to pay for her entire education. In realizing how time consuming and complicated the process of finding scholarships for STEM diverse students was, María Fernanda created IO Scholarships to make things much easier. She learned first-hand to find, apply for and win scholarships and became an advocate promoting scholarships nationwide.

“IOScholarships was inspired by my own experience as I was very fortunate to access scholarships to attend prestigious universities and realized that more could be done to support minority students especially now as STEM education becomes more important to workforce opportunities,” said María Fernanda Trochimezuk, Founder of IO Scholarships. “IO Scholarships will not only help underrepresented students find scholarships, but level the playing field so all students have the opportunity to achieve their education goals.”

ABOUT XYLO ACADEMY

We are a group of passionate and skilled storytellers. We believe that students everywhere should have the power and ability to access a world-class education. We believe that technology and innovation, especially disruptive innovation, provides unlimited potential for the future. XYLO Academy introduces this space to students in a bold, story-telling format breaking down any barriers that impede equal opportunity to explore, learn and thrive in the 5 disruptive innovation platforms: Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain & Cryptocurrencies, Robotics, Energy Storage and Bio Tech. We have diverse experiences and backgrounds across technology, product innovations and education. We are united in our passion to provide equal access to the study of technology and innovation. Our diversity is our strength, and our mission is our singular focus. XYLO – Unlimited space for learning and opportunity.

ABOUT IO SCHOLARSHIPS

Most of the scholarships featured on the IOScholarships website come directly from corporations and organizations, rather than solely from competitive national pools – thereby maximizing the number of opportunities students have to earn funding for their education. Each month IO Scholarships adds hundreds of new curated scholarships to its database and posts “The Scholarship of the Week” on its Twitter, Facebook and Instagram social media accounts (@IOScholarships), making it easy to find new scholarship opportunities.

In addition to providing scholarships, IO Scholarships website offers a free scholarship organizer, news articles designed to provide guidance on how to apply for scholarships, and money saving tips. The platform also offers a Career Aptitude Quiz designed to help students identify the degrees and professions that best fit their skills.

For more information about IO Scholarships visit www.ioscholarships.com or for weekly STEM scholarships email maria.fernanda@ioscholarships.com.

Maria ‘Chica’ Lopez Becomes the First Latina LBTQ+ Creator To Join Fortnite Icon Series
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Maria ‘Chica’ Lopez on a computer chair

By Yamily Habib, Be Latina

When we say Latinas are breaking through in every industry, we mean every industry. Just look at the outstanding achievement of Twitch streamer Maria “Chica” Lopez, who has joined the icon series of Epic Games‘ popular game, Fortnite.

As announced by the company, Chica’s icon set is now available in the item store and includes five different costume styles.

The icon set is one of 17 rarity types in Fortnite: Battle Royale. This rarity focuses on notable celebrities, artists, and influencers. The most notable inclusions are emotes (Twitch-specific emoticons that viewers and streamers use to express many feelings in chat) with copyrighted songs and other cosmetics based on streamers and artists.

Chica thus joins professional athletes such as LeBron James and Neymar Jr, pop star Ariana Grande, fellow streamer Kathleen “Loserfruit” Belsten, and others in the Icon Series, which immortalizes celebrities and high-profile content creators with skins and other cosmetics in Fortnite.

Maria “Chica” Lopez is an American Twitch streamer and professional eSports player known for her talent in multi-person shooter games like Fortnite.

Chica started gaming full-time during college and has since garnered over 2 million followers on Twitch, making her one of the most successful streamers on the platform. Maria has also become known for being one of the only prominent streamers to broadcast games in two different languages.

Chica has been a professional eSports player for several years. She first signed with TSM as their first player. Then she signed with DooM Clan and later joined Luminosity Gaming as a content creator and streamer.

Now, the young Latina breaks the glass ceiling and becomes the much-needed representation in the gaming world.

“I take a lot of pride in being not only a content creator but also in my identity as a Puerto Rican woman in the LGBTQIA+ community,” Chica said. “I wanted my Set in Fortnite to be true to who I am. I’ve been able to build such an awesome community within the Fortnite family, and I can’t wait to share my Set with everyone. I’m thrilled to be the first Latina to join the Icon Series.”

Click here to read the full article on Be Latina.

Top Pay, Diverse Culture Make Hayward Unified School District a Gem for Latinx Teachers
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Latina smiling in an ad for teaching at Hayward Unified School Disctrict

As Latinx teachers seek more rewarding opportunities in education, Hayward Unified School District (HUSD) has emerged as one of the top employers in the Bay Area. The district offers some of the best teacher pay, a culturally responsive teaching philosophy and an in-house induction program to facilitate career growth through credential preparation and support.

Fueled by a mission to achieve equity in education for all students and create conditions to retain candidates as they transition into the teaching profession, HUSD focuses on what matters. It is more important than ever for schools to offer the same level of diversity that exists in the community. Latinx teacher representation addresses implicit bias in education, enhancing the experience for the entire school. The district is dedicated to establishing and maintaining safe, inclusive and equitable teaching and learning environments that foster global citizenship in a changing society.

More than a Teaching Job

It’s no longer enough to offer cookie-cutter teaching positions. HUSD has answered the call for meaningful employment by striving to be a district that emphasizes healthy culture and unprecedented teacher support. The HUSD Induction Program supports Latinx employees who are working towards clearing their preliminary credential. The mentorship-based program is available at no cost to HUSD employees. It promotes habits of reflective and effective teaching practices and collaboration while nurturing relationships with candidates so they can clear their certifications and grow professionally. Also, the HUSD human resources team works closely with candidates who wish to teach but are taking a non-traditional pathway to the classroom by exploring their options for provisional permits and waivers and connecting them with credentialing programs.

Culturally Responsive Training Takes a Front Seat

Enhancing the representation of Hispanic teachers within HUSD meets the district’s objective to promote inclusivity and equitable education for all students. It improves student and teacher experiences and inspires Latinx students to continue their educational paths, even beyond the district.

As a district that celebrates differences, HUSD has a culturally responsive teaching and learning environment, an anti-bias/anti-racist board policy and extensive related training throughout the district. Staff is encouraged to teach and learn alongside others with different perspectives to create more unified and empathetic communities. With equity pilot programs at select HUSD sites, the district promotes a culture of inclusivity, diversity and acceptance at every school.

Becoming a Part of Something Bigger

HUSD serves over 18,000 students in grades K-12 at 29 schools. The district also has a vibrant preschool program, an alternative high school and adult school program, career technical education and regional occupational programs and an independent study program to support students outside of the traditional school structure. Students graduate from HUSD proud to be Made in Hayward and prepared with the skills they need for life beyond the classroom.

HUSD looks beyond education and core programs and brings a holistic approach to empowering Latinx educators and students, which sends a ripple effect throughout the Hayward community. Featuring award-winning visual and performing arts programs, state-of-the-art facilities, dual language immersion programs in Spanish and Mandarin, career pathways and a strong sense of school pride, the district is looking for educators who are ready to become part of something bigger than themselves.

“Hayward Unified School District has a strong sense of school pride and a community feeling at each of our schools,” said Aurora L. Sweet, director of certificated personnel at HUSD. “Great facilities and programs are just a fraction of what makes our schools great. It’s the people that really make our school sites special places for our students.”

Are you searching for a position with a school district where you can make the biggest impact? Whether you are ready to jump in now or need support to find your pathway into a career in education, HUSD offers a range of compelling career choices in education. Learn more about the current job opportunities at HUSD by visiting our human resources page at haywardusd-ca.schoolloop.com/hr

Hayward Unified School District serves over 18,000 students in grades K-12 and offers teacher candidates opportunities for enriching employment, diverse community and career advancement.

Underrepresented in tech, Latinas are using TikTok to help others navigate the industry
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Latinas on tiktok: Maribel Campos, left, works in video partner operations at Apple, Gina Moreno works for Microsoft, and Michelle Villagran is a systems implementation consultant.

By Edwin Flores

When Maribel Campos was 11, she was living in her parents’ trailer home in Sonoma, Calif. She recalled wanting her own iPod, but her parents, who were working multiple jobs to make ends meet, couldn’t afford one.

Campos, now 24, not only owns an iPod, but she also works at Apple TV Plus — a full-circle moment for her, she said.

“Never in a million years would I think that I would be working” on an Apple product or service, Campos, the daughter of Mexican immigrants, said.

Across all races and ethnicities, women remain underrepresented in computing-related jobs in the tech field, holding just 26 percent of the positions. For Hispanic women, this disparity is even worse, as they make up just 2 percent.

Now, Campos, along with other Latinas, are taking to TikTok to help others in their community navigate the tech world — by sharing their experiences, dispelling misconceptions and offering advice.

“I grew up in poverty, I had zero connections. I didn’t study anything relevant to what I’m doing now,” Campos, who has a degree in communications and media studies from Sonoma State University, said in one of her videos. “I’m still working in tech and you can do it too.”

‘There’s nobody else that looks like me here’
Michelle Villagran, 24, a systems implementation consultant for Westlands Management Solutions based in San Francisco, said she often felt discouraged in entry-level positions and internships because she was usually the only Latina.

“I would tell myself, like ‘Dang, I can’t have this job. There’s nobody else that looks like me here,'” said Villagran, who works remotely from Portland, Oregon. “There weren’t other Latinas in these teams, I was always the only one.”

Since many of the Latinas in tech are pursuing different career paths than those of their family and friends, it’s also hard for them to get career advice.

“I’m navigating everything by myself. I can’t reach out to my parents for advice or anything. So it definitely can feel very, very isolating,” Campos said. “There’s no one to hold your hand or tell you what to do next in your career, what next steps are for you, how to do your job. So finding someone that relates to your background and that is willing to help you is super key to being successful there.”

She said she found support through human resource groups, such as Amigos at Apple and outside groups such as Latinas in Tech.

Some also say they experience what is called impostor syndrome, which women are 22 percent more likely to experience in tech workplaces.

“It’s also the age,” said Gina Moreno, 26, a program manager for Microsoft. “You’re young, whereas a lot of people have 20-plus years of experience.”

For Moreno, learning to undo traditional Mexican values and perceptions of being a reserved and humble woman were pivotal in transitioning from college to a full-time professional job, she said.

“I had to learn that being humble is a great value in the Mexican community, but being humble doesn’t mean being modest in your career,” Moreno said. “I also learned that being direct is the way to advance, whereas in Mexican culture, being direct is rude.”

About 66 percent of women in tech say there’s no clear path for career advancement at their companies.

“At the end of the day, we’re all breaking glass ceilings, we’re all carving our own path,” Moreno said.

Striving to be an example
Popular TikTok videos about tech often describe six-figure salaries and other benefits that come with coding positions.

But Villagran, Campos and Moreno show a different side of the industry in their videos, by highlighting the variety of positions in the industry, some of which don’t require coding skills, yet still pay attractive salaries.

Click here to read the full article on NBC News.

Century 21 Real Estate paves a path for Latina representation through critical educational support and mentorship program
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Latina real estate representative showing a house

BY ERIN SIEGEL, Inman

With Hispanics projected to account for 70 percent of new homeownership growth in the U.S. in the next 20 years by the Urban Institute*, it is more important than ever that our industry of real estate professionals represent the same level of diversity as those communities we are serving across the country.

But enhancing representation of Hispanics within the real estate professions does not happen by simply recruiting more Hispanics into your brokerages — instead it requires a strong commitment of guidance and the financial support that provides them access to educational resources and mentorship along their journey.

Century 21 Real Estate LLC, the industry franchise leader and innovator for more than 50 years, announced earlier this month that in collaboration with the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, the brand is expanding its successful CENTURY 21® Empowering Latinas Program in 2022 with a national call-to-entry providing educational opportunities including financial support for 121 Latina entrepreneurs seeking to obtain a real estate license. Launched in 2018 as a market-focused campaign, the breakthrough program has since enabled deserving women across Florida, California, and Texas to pursue careers in real estate. The Empowering Latinas program has also supported the work of philanthropic organizations such as the Eva Longoria Foundation and the Hispanic Heritage Foundation in their efforts to empower the entrepreneurs of tomorrow.

“We are proud to elevate this program to the next level by opening up opportunities for those relentless Latina entrepreneurs across the country who are poised to become the next leaders of our industry,” said Mike Miedler, president and CEO, Century 21 Real Estate LLC. “In our business, it’s one thing to open the door for more diverse agents, but it’s more important that once they’re through those doors, they have the critical financial, educational, and business resources to set them on the path towards real estate success. This program, combined with the power of our global network of industry-leading sales professionals, does just that.”

In addition to awarding educational stipends to cover the costs of the required pre-licensing education with The CE Shop or a comparable provider in their state, Empowering Latinas honorees will be connected with the CENTURY 21 brand’s network of real estate professionals for additional mentoring, advice and support along their journey to becoming top real estate agents.

Click here to read the full article on Inman.

A Latina creates a platform to provide scholarships for STEM students
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María Trochimezuk created the IOScholarships platform last year to provide access to scholarships and boost more Latino and other students in STEM careers.

By Edwin Flores

A Latina has created a platform to provide access to scholarships worth almost $38 million for Latinos and other students interested in pursuing science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers.

María Trochimezuk, 47, created IOScholarships after noticing the amount of scholarship money that went unrewarded due to the lack of applicants. The free platform gives STEM students in high school and college a place to find scholarships, internships, work opportunities, financial education and resources based upon GPA, merit and financial background.

The aim, said Trochimezuk, is to help students graduate college debt-free while boosting the number of Latinos and other students of color pursuing STEM degrees and careers.

“I always had a vision that I wanted to create a platform that would be a community,” said Trochimezuk who is originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina. “It’s a first of its kind because we are focusing on underrepresented and underserved students, African American, Latinos, Asian American, Native American and also we have scholarships for DACA students.”

Trochimezuk said the platform, part of the National Scholarships Provider Association (NSPA), has helped provide access to nearly 11,000 students about a diverse range of STEM scholarships that are available from foundations and corporations.

She founded the platform last March, first investing her personal savings and then securing funding for the project through a grant provided by Google’s Ureeka PowerUp program, which supports Latino-owned businesses.

In 2000, Trochimezuk moved to the U.S. on a postgraduate scholarship in marketing and public relations at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and later was selected to be a part of Stanford’s prestigious Latino entrepreneurship initiative.

She worked on public education campaigns for Google and other financial institutions that focused on Latino community support.

Through her experiences, she witnessed how much scholarship money was undistributed because students were not applying. Yet Trochimezuk said she was able to pay off her entire education with grants and scholarships.

Over the last decade, the number of scholarships awarded to students has increased by 45 percent. Yet, the NSPA estimates $100 million in scholarships go unawarded each year due to the lack of applicants.

“We opened opportunities for students with scholarships that now are going to Stanford or MIT — these are brilliant, diverse students, they’re Latino, Black students. And it’s very important that companies pay attention to this workforce because these are the innovators of the future,” she said.

Despite making up 17 percent of the total workforce across all occupations, Latinos account for 8 percent of all STEM-related jobs.

Click here to read the full article on NBC News.

Scholarship Connoisseur Encourages Students to Apply for STEM Scholarships and Internship Opportunities Now
LinkedIn
Graduation mortar board cap on one hundred dollar bills concept for the cost of a college and university education loans

IOScholarships is the first of its kind scholarship and financial education platform for minority and underrepresented STEM students. The technology has been designed with a streamlined user-friendly interface that offers great functionality to help high school, undergraduate and graduate students find scholarships and internship opportunities. IOScholarships proprietary matching algorithm can match students with life-changing scholarships where their diverse background is valued.

“Now is the time for students to apply for college scholarships,” said María Fernanda Trochimezuk, Founder of IOScholarships. “While there are many scholarships that have qualifications like a minimum 3.5 GPA, there are just as many that have lower GPA requirements or don’t even take GPA into consideration at all.”

GPA is an important factor for getting scholarships but is not the only thing that’s important. Schools are looking for dedicated students, who contribute to their community or are involved in STEM organizations or activities. They want to see leadership and perseverance, and while these can sort of be reflected in a GPA, they mostly shine through in extracurriculars.

The majority of the scholarships featured on IOScholarships come directly from corporations and organizations, rather than solely from competitive university pools – thereby maximizing the number of opportunities students have to earn funding for their education. There’s plenty of money that goes unused every year, students just have to search for it.

Each month IO Scholarships adds hundreds of new curated scholarships to its database and posts “The Scholarship of the Week” on its Instagram social media accounts(@IOScholarships), making it easy to find new scholarship opportunities.

In addition to providing scholarships, the IOScholarships platform features a scholarship organizer, news articles designed to provide guidance on how to apply for scholarships, and money saving tips. The platform also offers a Career Aptitude Quiz designed to help students identify the degrees and professions that best fit their skills.

For more information about IOScholarships visit www.ioscholarships.com or for weekly STEM scholarships email maria.fernanda@ioscholarships.com.

First Latina to go to space announces bilingual STEAM board book series
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Dr Ellen ochoa smiling and posing in front of a gray background for the camera. She is wearing a blue button up. Ochoa is writing a STEAM board book series

By The Downey Patriot

Lil’ Libros Publishing has acquired world rights to a bilingual five-board book STEAM series, Dr. Ochoa’s Stellar World, researched and written by Dr. Ellen Ochoa, American engineer who became the first Latina woman to go to space.

Inspired by her experiences as a NASA astronaut, Dr. Ochoa’s books will celebrate the joy of scientific curiosity, the fundamentals of STEAM topics, and the American Latino experience for the youngest of readers.

“I wish I had known when I was little that science [or STEAM] is all about curiosity and creativity,” said Dr. Ochoa. “Those skills come naturally to young kids, and I hope this series engages kids and parents alike, in both English and Spanish, about STEAM concepts and excites them about exploring the world they inhabit.”

“We are excited to work alongside Dr. Ochoa to help create an environment where our littlest readers are introduced to STEAM concepts confidently and in two languages,” said Patty Rodriguez, publisher at Lil’ Libros. “Becoming a scientist is no longer just a dream for our children, it is a possibility and Dr. Ellen Ochoa is an example of that.”

“It is an honor to welcome Dr. Ellen Ochoa to the Lil’ Libros family. Bringing bilingual STEAM topics to children will open a world of possibilities,” added Ariana Stein, Lil’ Libros co-founder. “We are confident that Dr. Ochoa’s Stellar World will inspire curiosity and leave a lasting impact on children.”

Publication for the first book, Dr. Ochoa’s Stellar World: We Are All Scientists, is set for August 30, 2022.

Lil’ Libros is a bilingual children’s book publisher based out of Los Angeles. In a world lacking bilingual books for children, two best friends-turned-mothers – Patty Rodriguez, of Downey, and Ariana Stein – began their mission to celebrate the duality of the American Latino experience through picture board books and now hardcovers.

Click here to read the full article on The Downey Patriot.

D.C.’s struggle to hire more diverse teachers — and keep them
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diverse teachers wanted in latino schools

By Vanessa G. Sánchez, The Washington Post

Days before the coronavirus pandemic forced D.C. schools to close last year, fourth-grade teacher Isabella Sanchez sat down in front of the District’s State Board of Education to explain why teacher diversity matters. At H.D. Cooke Elementary in Northwest Washington, Sanchez told the board, she was one of only four Latino teachers serving a student body that is 52 percent Latino.

“This gap should matter to us as it matters to the students who walk into the school every single day,” she said. “I was just one of the few people who [students and parents] felt comfortable talking to, but I’m constantly wondering how many stories our Latinx students and their families would be empowered to tell if there were more Latinx teachers to tell them to.”

As school districts across the nation have become increasingly diverse, the diversity of their teachers and administrators has lagged. And while teachers in D.C. are more racially diverse than the national average, the city’s public and public charter schools have struggled to resolve a deficit of Latino teachers and male teachers of color — and to retain some educators once they’re hired.

A 2019 report from the Office of the State Superintendent of Education found that roughly 45 percent of D.C. students were males of color, compared with 16 percent of teachers. Nineteen percent of the city’s students, meanwhile, were Latino or Hispanic, compared with 7 percent of teachers. The latter gap was even wider in Wards 1 and 4, where “15 percent and 10 percent of teachers are Hispanic/Latino, respectively, but 58 percent and 40 percent of students are Hispanic/Latino,” the report said.

“What message does that send to [students]? That Latinx people don’t or can’t become teachers,” Sanchez, who has since moved to Garrison Elementary, said of those disparities in an interview. “There’s so much messaging that happens on kind of a subconscious level.”

With the pandemic affecting student learning, and with a heightened national awareness around racial justice issues, experts say recruiting and retaining teachers and principals of color is essential in making schools more equitable.

D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Lewis D. Ferebee acknowledged that the system has “work to do” in areas such as recruiting more Latino and Hispanic educators.

“Being able to talk to someone that shares your experience is incredibly meaningful and affirming, but also gives you that sense of promise that you can make it to that place in your own life,” said Scott Goldstein, founder of EmpowerEd, a teacher-led organization working to create D.C. education policies that represent diverse voices.

Research shows that teachers play an important role in shaping students’ beliefs about their academic prospects. Higher student expectations, the 2019 OSSE report found, can lead to lower likelihoods of suspension and dropout for Black and Latino students.

“We know the world that we live in. We know as teachers that there’s a sense of urgency to make sure that every kid will succeed, and you never want to see a kid fail because of your low expectations for them,” said Sanchez, a fifth-grade reading, writing and social studies teacher at Garrison.

Aggie Payton, a special-education teacher at Whittier Elementary in Northwest D.C., saw the importance of having such supportive teachers when he endured economic hardship and homelessness as a Black teenager in Bradenton, Fla. His school mentors, he said, taught him life skills and motivated him to stay in school, apply to college and eventually become a teacher.

Payton said he now sees his life experiences as an advantage in connecting with students going through similar struggles at Whittier, a Title I school where 96 percent of students are students of color.

“I’m a Black male, and I’m not just relatable, but I also have high expectations for students,” he said. “… That drives me incessantly.”

The city has made some notable improvements in hiring. Through TeachDC, a data-driven hiring system implemented in 2009, DCPS is receiving more applications and filling most vacancies before the first day of school, a Georgetown University study published in September found.

“Our effort to retain and attract teachers are certainly research-based practices and something that we think about a lot, including compensation, leadership opportunities, collaboration,” Ferebee said.

The Georgetown report also noted that DCPS was retaining more than 90 percent of teachers who rated as effective or highly effective, which Ferebee said is “what we want.” But the city’s evaluation system, known as IMPACT, has been found to be racially biased, with White teachers on average receiving higher scores.

Although the share of Black educators in DCPS has risen over the past 10 years — to 56 percent — that figure remains 20 points lower than it was two decades ago, according to data from the OSSE and the nonprofit Albert Shanker Institute.

According to a recent district report, 25 percent of D.C. teachers on average leave each year, six percentage points above the average in other U.S. urban cities. This school year’s retention numbers, measured in October, showed a lower departure rate of 14 percent, DCPS said.

Click here to read the full article on the Washington Post.

Education leaders serving Latino students rethink college equity post-pandemic
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education institute sign at the entrance to California State University, Northridge on Jan. 23

By 

As higher education leaders mark 25 years since the creation of Hispanic-serving institutions, they’re assessing how these colleges and universities can enroll and graduate more Latino students amid the fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Last fall, colleges saw a 5 percent drop in Latino undergraduate enrollments. The dramatic decrease came one year after Latino college enrollment had increased by nearly 2 percent, according to Deborah Santiago, CEO of Excelencia in Education, a nonprofit that analyzes how higher education institutions are enrolling, retaining and graduating Latino students.

“There was a lot of progress and accelerating enrollment. We were seeing increases in completion as well,” Santiago said during a virtual briefing on Hispanic-serving institutions held on Wednesday. “In one year, we saw a precipitous drop, scaling back some of the enrollment progress.”

While HSIs make up only about 18 percent of all colleges and universities, they enroll and graduate over 60 percent of the nation’s Latino college students. HSIs are defined as institutions where at least a quarter of the student body is Hispanic.

In the briefing, education officials and Latino members of Congress reflected on the growth of these institutions while discussing how they can step up to recent challenges.

“Equity is a big focus for us moving forward,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said during the briefing. “Institutions like HSIs play a major role in that. So when we’re talking about recovery as a country, we need to acknowledge HSIs and the important work that they do to promote equity and access for all students.”

In their 25 years of existence, HSIs have grown exponentially, from about 189 colleges and universities to 539 as of last year. This is due to an increase in Latino college students who are mainly concentrated in several predominantly Hispanic areas, cities and states.

In the last 25 years, over 835 unique federal grants, totaling $1.9 billion, have provided educational opportunities for over 1.1 million Latino students enrolled in HSIs.

Santiago said while federal funding is not parallel to the growth HSIs have seen over the last decades, there’s an opportunity to assess what kinds of investments should be done to meet the growing demand and ensure successful results.

Roadblocks, then Covid

While college enrollment among Latino students has been increasing over the past decade and reached a record high in 2017, Hispanics still lag behind in college completion, according to Excelencia’s research. At least 22 percent of Latino adults have earned an associate degree or higher, compared to 39 percent of the general population. High costs, a limited knowledge of college and trying to balance work, family and academics are the most common barriers preventing Hispanic students from finishing college on time.

But the panorama gets more complicated as the Covid-19 pandemic heaps great economic stress on Latino families.

Click here to read the full article on NBC News.

7 Options if You Didn’t Receive Enough Financial Aid
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Complete the FAFSA form is shown on a smartphone

If you did not receive enough financial aid to cover your school expenses, you have seven ways to fill the gap.

Your school’s financial aid office is an excellent resource to help you explore these additional options, even after completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®).

Apply for Scholarships

Scholarships are usually merit-based and do not have to be repaid. The key is being prepared, because scholarships have deadlines and may require time to write essays. So, get organized and regularly search and apply for scholarships.

Ask your school’s financial aid office or your academic advisor about school-specific or departmental (major-specific) scholarships. You should also look for local scholarships from where you live or graduated from high school. Scholarships may be offered by community, religious and fraternal organizations; and businesses in your community or those that employ your parent(s).

Look for scholarship resources that are available from your state government, or from statewide organizations with which you may have been involved. Research companies in your state that are related to your planned field of study.

National scholarships can be more competitive, but don’t let that keep you from applying. Prioritize local applications first.

Just be careful. With scholarship opportunities, it’s wise to be cautious of student aid scams. If you are ever concerned about the legitimacy of a scholarship opportunity, contact your school’s financial aid office. Prioritize local applications first and make sure you meet all deadlines.

Find Part-Time Work

Federal Work-Study can help you cover some costs throughout the semester since these funds are paid as you earn them. Remember, these funds are typically paid directly to you through a paycheck, so if you still owe an amount to your school, you would need to take those funds back to the school to pay your bill.

If you were not awarded work-study funds, most schools have other part-time, on-campus positions that can help pay for school. Working part-time on campus can be beneficial to your educational experience, as long as you can find a healthy balance between your school and work. Ask your financial aid office or career services office how to apply for on-campus position

Tuition Payment Plans

Your school’s billing office (sometimes referred to as the bursar’s office, cashier’s office or student accounts office) may have payment plans available to help you spread the remaining costs over several payments throughout a semester. The payment plan can help you budget the payments rather than paying in one lump sum, possibly helping you avoid costly late fees.

Request a Reevaluation of Your Circumstances

Sometimes a family’s finances are not accurately reflected on the FAFSA® form because of changes that have occurred, such as job loss/reduction, divorce or separation or other special circumstances. This may be a consideration now that you can file the FAFSA® form early with tax information that is two years old by the time enrollment begins.

Schools are not required to consider special circumstances, but those that do have a process, called professional judgement, by which you can petition for a reevaluation of the information on your FAFSA® form will likely require you to submit additional documentation to your school’s financial aid office. If warranted, the financial aid office can then recalculate your eligibility, possibly resulting in a change to your financial aid offer.

Request Additional Federal Student Loans

If you’ve exhausted other options and still need additional funds to help you pay for school, contact your school’s financial aid office to find out if you’re eligible for additional federal student loans. Just remember to borrow only what you need to pay your educational expenses.

Federal Direct PLUS Loans: If you are a dependent student and still need more money, your parent can apply for a Direct PLUS Loan. Most schools use the application on StudentLoans.gov, but others may have their own application. The PLUS loan application process does include a credit check. If your parent is not approved, he or she may still be able to receive a Direct PLUS Loan by obtaining an endorser (cosigner) or documenting extenuating circumstances. If a parent borrower is unable to secure a PLUS loan, the student may be eligible for additional unsubsidized student loans of up to $5,000 depending upon his or her year in school.

School-Based Loans, Advances or Emergency Aid

Sometimes you may have college-related costs, such as housing costs or other living expenses, before your financial aid is disbursed. Your school may offer an option to advance your financial aid, offer a school-based loan program or have an emergency aid procedure.

Several schools now offer emergency aid opportunities if you experience unexpected expenses or challenges that are making it difficult for you to complete the semester. Ask your financial aid office if they offer these options and always make sure you are aware of the terms and conditions (such as interest rates or repayment terms) of your agreement.

Private or Alternative Loans

Some private financial institutions offer education loans that do not require the FAFSA® form. While we recommend federal aid first, we realize it does not always cover the cost, especially for more expensive schools. Private loans will almost always require a cosigner and may have higher fees or interest rates depending on your credit. Ask your financial aid office if they have a list of lenders for you to consider. If your school does not maintain such a list, you can search for lenders on your own.

Compare products before making your choice: look at interest rates, fees, repayment terms, creditworthiness requirements, satisfactory academic progress requirements, etc. Students and parents are free to choose whichever lender best fits their needs — even if it is not on a school’s preferred lender list.

Before going out on your own and making any final decisions on how to fill the gap between your aid and your expenses, we recommend that you meet with a representative in your financial aid office to determine what campus resources might be available. You might still have time to change some of your choices before the semester begins: Can you change the type of meal plan you chose? The type of housing? The number of classes in which you are enrolled? Check with campus officials to see if you still have time to select a different, more affordable option.

Source: studentaid.gov

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Upcoming Events

  1. City Career Fair
    January 19, 2022 - November 4, 2022
  2. The Small Business Expo–Multiple Event Dates
    February 17, 2022 - December 1, 2022
  3. USPAACC’s CelebrASIAN Business + Procurement Conference 2022
    May 25, 2022 - May 27, 2022
  4. From Day One
    June 14, 2022
  5. 2022 Airport Minority Business Development Conference (AMAC) Annual Conference
    June 20, 2022 - June 23, 2022
  6. From Day One
    June 22, 2022
  7. UNIDOS US Annual Conference & Latinx Inclusion Summit
    July 9, 2022 - July 11, 2022
  8. Business Beyond Barriers Conference + Expo
    July 14, 2022 @ 8:00 am - 3:00 pm
  9. 2022 LULAC National convention
    July 25, 2022 - July 30, 2022
  10. CHCI’s 2022 Leadership Conference & Gala
    September 13, 2022 - September 15, 2022