Nuestra Iniciativa - July Issue

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Nuestra Iniciativa HeaderNuestra Iniciativa - July 2013 Issue
Miami Dade College Visit with ED and the WHIEEH

Recently, the WHIEEH held a strategic working session to discuss the key policy priorities that will drive our second term agenda and identify opportunities to inform the Hispanic community about our efforts to close the achievement gap, highlight the gains our students are making and address the educational disparities that remain. At the heart of our work will be strengthening the "cradle to career" pipeline to ensure that more students are college and career ready for the jobs of the 21st-century. 

One of those priorities is making sure we graduate more students from high school and help them enroll in college. This month we highlight the crucial role guidance counselors play in helping students become college bound by interviewing Erin Martinez, a guidance counselor in California. We hope you enjoy our July Issue! 

Alejandra Ceja, Executive Director 

In the News2011 WTAF policy briefing

Despite an increase in student enrollment at community colleges over the past 10 years, degree completion for Latinos has not grown as rapidly.  The study by Excelencia in Education and Single Stop USA demonstrates how community colleges across the country are improving financial aid and student services for Latinos to ensure college retention and completion. 

To learn more read, Supporting Latino Community College Students: An Investment in Our Economic Future.

Join Our Affordable Care Act Call

Join the WHIEEH and the Department of Health and Human Services for a presentation on the Affordable Care Act – specifically the Health Insurance Marketplace.  Find out: 

  • How does the Marketplace work? 
  • Who is eligible to enroll?
  • How do programs for people with limited incomes work?
  • How can you help enroll others in health insurance? 

DatesTuesday July 16 at 3:30 pm, Wednesday July 24 at 2:00 pm (in Spanish), Thursday July 25 at 4:00 pm

Details for the Conference Call on July 16

Did You Know?
  • A 12-year study shows that the Latino college enrollment rate has increased and has surpassed the enrollment rate of whites by 2 percentage points. Learn more
  • Latinos are now the largest ethnic group in Texas public schools, surpassing non-Hispanic whites in enrollment for the first time in history. Learn more
  • The number of Hispanic seniors who took AP exams increased by 10.4%. Learn more
Hostos Community College CommencementSecretary Arne Duncan Hostos Speech Video

“So, please know that you have the right to dream—and the education and passion to pursue your dreams. But please also remember that you are links in the chain connecting the past and tomorrow.” 

-Secretary Arne Duncan

Read his Patriots of Humanity speech or watch it online here

Institutions with the Highest and Lowest Tuition
College Affordability and Transparency Center

As part of the Obama Administration’s ongoing effort to increase transparency around the cost of higher education, the Department updated lists on its College Affordability and Transparency Center.  

They highlight institutions with the highest and lowest tuition and fees, highest and lowest average net prices, and highest percentage increases in tuition. 

The Nation's Report CardThe Nation's Report Card

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) at the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) released “The Nation’s Report Card: Trends in Academic Progress 2012,” a long-term trend assessment designed to track changes in the achievement of students ages 9, 13, and 17 since the 1970s. 

Notable in the report are the improvements among today’s Hispanic students compared to their peers years ago: 

  • 9-year-old Hispanic students scored 25 points higher in reading and 32 points higher in math; and 
  • 17-year-old Hispanic students scored 21 points higher in reading and 17 points higher in math. 

As a result, while racial/ethnic achievement gaps persist, they are generally smaller than they were four decades ago.

Facts on Adult English Language Programs

Did you know adult English language learners nationally make up 40 percent of the adult education population served? 

Which states have the highest percentage of English as a second language (ESL) students? 

See a new fact sheet providing details of the student demographics in adult ESL programs, the progress they are making, and the allocations that support their education.

EL Participants GraphNew Early Learning VideoEarly Learning Video

Recently, the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services teamed up to release a new web video that provides an easy to understand explanation of the President's Early Education Plan. To learn more visit:

Internship OpportunitiesInternship Photograph

Accepting applications for Fall 2013!

  • The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics internship provides current undergraduate and graduate students with an opportunity to learn about Latino-focused education policy, communications, and outreach at ED in Washington, D.C. Additional questions for the WHIEEH internship can be sent to
  • The Department of Education internship provides you with the opportunity to explore your interests in education policy research and analysis, or intergovernmental relations and public affairs, or even work with social media while learning about the role Federal Government plays in education.  

Application Deadlines: July 15.

FAFSA Completion Project

The Department of Education piloted a FAFSA Completion Project to assist local educational agencies (LEAs) and secondary school administrators in determining which of their students have completed a FAFSA application for the upcoming school year. 

Completing the FAFSA – which is used to determine eligibility for federal aid and is the gateway to other student aid – is a critical factor in helping students access higher education. Key studies have indicated that FAFSA completion correlates strongly with college enrollment, particularly among low-income populations. 

Research indicates that 90% of students who complete the FAFSA will enroll in post secondary education.

Leader Spotlight
Erin Martinez

This month we invite you to learn about Erin Martinez. Since 2006, she has been a guidance counselor at John W. North High School in the Riverside Unified School District in California working extensively with students classified as English Learners.  She is currently the district’s lead counselor for ED's piloted FAFSA Completion Project.   

What aspect of education are you most passionate about and why?  I’m passionate about helping kids see the possibilities that are open to them.  I’m passionate about making sure kids have choices when they leave high school, whether it be college or a career they will love.  I’m passionate about making sure that every student knows that college is an option for them despite past mistakes or the expectations of others or how much their parents make.  I’m passionate about helping kids see what they are capable of and how exciting it is to discover something they truly love to do. 

What advice do you have for students over the summer? Make time to visit colleges if at all possible—it’s never too early to start checking them out.  Schedule a formal tour—it makes a difference in how you experience a campus.  Look at schools even if you have no plan to apply there—it’ll give you a good idea of what you like (or don’t like) and what feels right to you.  Make it a part of your family vacation if you take one.  Or just look at schools that are local for you—some colleges offer overnight stays in the dorms as well. 

Also, check out summer programs for high school students at many colleges—you can take a class (for a fee—but most offer scholarships) and get a real feel for the college environment…and you can also earn college credit!  

For students who will attend college in the fall—pay attention to deadlines!  Read your email regularly and respond to requests for information from your college—don’t ignore them or delete!  Make sure you have access to the online student portal for your college—and visit it frequently.  Read all the posts—and ask questions if you’re confused. 

What one piece of advice would you give parents/students to help students complete high school and be college and career ready? You must be your own advocate. You must ask questions and seek to meet with your counselor/teacher. Parents, ensure that you establish a connection and frequent communication pattern with your child’s counselor. Students who get the most from their counselor are those who ask questions, directly seek help, and whose parents are active. This is difficult for some parents, given their schedules, but most counselors are open to working with parents and students in different ways.

Grant Opportunities

Women's Business Center Program Initial Grant The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) invites private, 501(c)- certified non-profit organizations that are located within and will provide services to the population of Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, and Washington to apply for a five year Women's Business Center (WBC) grant. Applications close on July 31, 2013. 

Corporation for National and Community Service Seeks Participants in RSVP Competition The Corporation for National and Community Service seeks to increase the impact of national service in 270 specific communities across the country. Applications are due September 10, 2013 at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time. 


Archive Newsletter Access Here
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This Month in History

Gustavo C. Garcia, born July 27, 1915, was a prominent Mexican-American activist and lawyer who dedicated his life to advocating and fighting for the civil rights of the Latino community.  In 1948 he defended the case Delgado v. Bastrop Independent School District in the U.S. District Court of Western Texas which effectively made segregation of Mexican-American children illegal in Texas public schools.


Our Stories in a Blog


Despite being college eligible and in some cases even enrolled, there are students that  will not attend in the fall, “melting” away during the summer. 

Read the blog


This blog features 3 student speakers who shared personal stories about their experiences with the immigration system.  These stories highlight the challenges they faced by many immigrant students in financing their educations.

Read the blog

Principal Fellowship Application Open

Deadline: July 16

Applications for ED's inaugural Principal Ambassador Fellowship program are now available online.  

Sign up to receive updates about the Fellowship program. 


Recursos en Espanol

FAFSA en Español

Còmo Llenar el FAFSA

Encuentra la Universidad Adecuada Para Ti


Educacion PreescolarMundo Fox Interview

A pesar de la magnitud de Latinos en las escuelas en este país, participación en los programas de educación pre-escolar es dramáticamente baja con solo alrededor del 25% participando. 

Aprende mas en MundoFox con Alejandra Ceja. 

Common Core StandardsCommon Core Standards

Secretary Duncan addressed the American Society of News Editors’ Annual Convention, discussing the value of news literacy in a changing world and correcting myths and falsehoods about the Common Core State Standards Initiative

To date, 45 states, the District of Columbia, four territories and the Department of Defense Education Activity have adopted the new standards. 

Below is an excerpt from the speech:

“I believe the Common Core state standards may prove to be the single greatest thing to happen to public education in America since Brown v. Board of Education -- and the federal government had nothing to do with creating them.  The federal government didn’t write them, didn’t approve them, and doesn’t mandate them.  And, we never will.  Anyone who says otherwise is either misinformed or willfully misleading.”

300 Business Leaders for Early Learning

300 Business Leaders signed a letter to President Obama and Congress urging them to invest in early learning programs. Click here to read the letter.


SIG Data Released

ED has released additional data from School Improvement Grant (SIG) schools for the 2010-11 school year.

For the first time, the department is publicly releasing data on the following leading indicators of school improvement for SIG schools: student attendance, teacher attendance, advanced course-taking, and minutes in the school year at the school level. Learn more


Recipient of AwardModesto Photograph

Congratulations to Modesto Abety-Gutierrez, the 2013 award recipient of the Frank Logue Founder's "Vision to Action" Award! Mr. Abety-Gutierrez serves on the Presidential Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics and was the former CEO of The Children’s Trust. 


Anniversary of Title VI

On July 2, 2013, Secretary Duncan released a statement regarding the anniversary of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, saying "The 49th anniversary of the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is an opportunity to reflect on the importance of education in America's progress toward racial equality." Read Secretary Duncan’s full remarks here.


More News

* is the destination for the Health Insurance Marketplace.  Americans may now access new educational information and learn what they can do to get ready for open enrollment this fall. En Español:

*POTUS Statement on Senate Passage of Immigration Reform

*From a pool of 1,300 recipe entries, 54 students from across the nation were selected as winners for First Lady Michelle Obama’s and Epicurious’s “Healthy Lunchtime Challenge.”  

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