Community Conversation: Latino Student Success

Author: Helios Education Foundation

Posted on: March 6, 2015

Arizona education leaders met recently to discuss ways to increase the preparedness of the state’s Latino population – currently the fastest growing segment of our population.

“This is a critical issue for the state of Arizona,”  said Tommy Espinoza, President and CEO of Raza Development Fund.  “Arizona must prioritize the educational success and degree attainment of our students in order to secure the future economic viability of our state.”

The event was sponsored by Helios Education Foundation and Raza Development Fund with support from Chicanos Por La Causa, Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Alfredo Guterriez, author of To Sin Against Hope.

The discussion focused on the demographic shift in Arizona, the Latino education gap, the role of the community colleges in serving Latino students and the economic impact of a prepared workforce pipeline. 

Currently, Arizona has the fourth largest concentration of Latinos behind New Mexico, California and Texas.  At 44 percent, Latinos already make up the largest proportion of the state’s population of children and there are more Latino children than white children in the state’s public schools. 

However, Latino students are not achieving at the same rate as their White peers in educational attainment.  Only 69 percent of Arizona Latinos graduated from high school on time compared to more than 76 percent on non-Latinos,  65 percent of Latino adults lack post-high school training and only nine percent have a bachelor’s degree or higher.

“Helios Education Foundation was founded on the belief that every student, regardless of zip code, deserves a high-quality education,” said Paul J. Luna, President and CEO.  “That’s why this conversation is so important to us and why we will champion Latino education throughout our state.”    

Dr. Rufus Glasper, chancellor of the Maricopa County Community College District gave the keynote address and reinforced the Colleges’ commitment to provide an “open system where anyone who wants to can come to one of the Maricopa Community Colleges.” 

Of the Maricopa Community Colleges' 128,212 students, 26 percent are Hispanic and 48 percent are White.  The Latino population at the Maricopa Community Colleges has increased steadily over the years and the Colleges are a critical postsecondary option for many Latino students.    They serve more Latino students than our three state universities combined.   The Maricopa Community College system is a gateway to postsecondary education success for thousands of Latino students. 

In the coming years, Latinos will become an increasingly larger share of our country’s leaders and workers and will, in some cases, including Arizona, eventually comprise the majority.   They are the workforce pipeline – ensuring they are prepared for success will benefit our state economically. 

“The number one top-of-mind item for companies when they are considering coming to Arizona is prepared workforce,”  said Chris Camacho, President and CEO, Greater Phoenix Economic Council

The final speaker of the day was Alfredo Gutierrez, the only Latino member of the Maricopa Community Colleges Governing Board.   He concluded the event by reinforcing that this conversation is just beginning and that it is time for community leaders to put a stake in the ground around this issue. 

“The time is now.  This is an issue of justice – our future depends on this educational system.  Join me in a vision where 80-90 percent of our children can read at grade level, where students graduating from high school don’t need developmental education and where our children can compete and take part in this economy and help make it grow,”  Alfredo Gutierrez. 

Click here to read more about the event and hear interviews with education leaders.

Click below to download event presentations:


Category: Foundation Feature

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