Letter from the President 9.15.2015

There are few issues as important and as complex in the Latino community as college readiness, retention and graduation. Latino young people face persistent systemic barriers that prevent them from attaining a college degree, resulting in the lowest educational attainment level of any group in the U.S. Only 14.5 percent of Latinos aged 25 and older had earned a B.A. degree and only four percent have completed graduate or professional degree programs. On average Latino students arrive on campus with less academic preparation, less social and monetary capital, and more fiscal challenges. As a result, they are also more likely to take a longer (and less certain) route to a college degree, often attending community college before moving to a four-year institution. These challenges are also more likely to make Latinos dropout along the way, behavior that is strikingly similar to non-Latinos from low socio-economic backgrounds, who are also less likely to persist to a B.A. degree.

In 2012, we created CREAR (College Readiness, Achievement and Retention) Futuros to address this problem head-on. We partnered with CUNY and Lumina Foundation, and private sector supporters like Delta Air Lines to create a program focused on helping Latino college students by providing them highly trained peer-mentors, specialized academic tutoring, leadership trainings, social services and internships.

Thanks to a three-year, $1 million grant from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, HF will now build on the success of the program by launching CREAR Futuros 2.0 and National Expansion Initiative. This initiative consists of two elements: CREAR 2.0, an enhancement and expansion of its innovative CREAR Futuros college access and completion program, and the National CREAR Futuros Initiative (NCFI), a replication of the CREAR 2.0 program across multiple states. Through these elements, HF aims to significantly improve the retention and graduation rates, course completion and GPA of nearly 1,000 Latino students in New York, Connecticut, and Florida.

CREAR 2.0 will offer enhancements that will include a technology element (in kind provided tablets, oversight and tracking, and a virtual curriculum tied to independent study), a standardization/incentivizing element (MetroCards, book stipends and credit-bearing / independent study programs), and an evaluative element. Through CREAR 2.0, HF will seek to significantly increase Latino graduation and retention rates.

HF will also plan a National CREAR Futuros Initiative (NCFI) expansion into targeted states including Connecticut, New Jersey and Florida to be launched in fall of 2017. NCFI will replicate best practices and lessons learned from the CREAR 2.0 college retention and completion model.

In the past quarter century, HF’s work has created a powerful movement which has made tremendous strides in promoting social equity and justice, reducing the academic achievement gap and increasing economic opportunity for Latinos. This isn’t easy work and our HF staff works tirelessly to make sure CREAR Futuros delivers for Latino college students. Thanks to the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and their historic support of our work, we’ll be able to help many more Latino students reach their academic potential.