ASU president: Major progress needed to bolster Latino success in higher education

April 30, 2015

Education is key for the success of Latinos and, in turn, for the success of the state itself. Yet only a small percent of Arizona’s Hispanic population will graduate from college, said ASU President Michael M. Crow.

Despite new programs and scholarships geared to bolster Hispanics in postsecondary education success, he said, that gap will only widen without game-changing progress.  Michael M. Crow ASU President Arizona State University Arizona Biltmore Hotel Download Full Image

"As a New American University, ASU is redefining higher education to increase access to a quality education, an effort that extends across all of America's income levels and communities," Crow said April 30 at an event hosted by the Helios Education Foundation at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix.

"We are also committed in our charter to taking responsibility for the broader community, for the community where we live and work. Both of these aims require that we address the Latino student-achievement gap. Arizona cannot fulfill its greatest potential if it fails to educate the fastest-growing populace in the state."

Crow said Arizona has an opportunity to lead the nation in closing the Latino student-achievement gap and securing a future where every student, regardless of income level, is prepared to succeed. However, poverty remains the biggest roadblock.

He noted that 58 percent of Latinos in Arizona live in poverty, a key determinant for college readiness and attainment. Without change or long-term solutions, it is projected that 62 percent of Latinos in the state will live in poverty, compared with 31 percent of Whites. That outcome could stagnate Arizona’s economy, burden government services and create more poverty. 

Over the past decade, the university and Helios have developed several programs to encourage the success of Hispanic students, educators and administrators.

Those partnerships include the American Dream Academy, where parents and teachers collaborate to transform each child’s educational environment at home and school; the Hispanic Mother Daughter Program, sponsored by ASU's Cesar Chavez Leadership Institute; Spirit of Service Scholars, which honors outstanding students interested in pursuing careers in the public and non-profit sector; and Leaders for Learning, a principal-training program for Hispanic teachers.

But despite the university's attempts to create innovate pathways for Latino students looking to enter college, Crow said more is needed to address the shortfall and steer Arizona towards greater economic prosperity.

Helios Education Foundation CEO and President Paul J. Luna said that despite the gloomy statistics, he believes Arizona still has an opportunity to lead the nation in recognizing Latino success. But it must start at home and continue seamlessly through college.

"The solution starts with the agreement of what we're trying to achieve and understanding the importance of Latino future success," Luna said. "It's also about ensuring that parents and families start to build a college-going culture and that we provide resources and strong support mechanisms to Latinos, who traditionally come from underserved communities."

Crow’s presentation, “Arizona’s Economic Imperative: Leading the Nation in Latino Student Success,” was delivered before approximately 200 education, business, community and civic leaders looking to improve Latino college success as well as the state's future economic growth. 

According to Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce, by 2020, 65 percent of all jobs in the economy will require postsecondary education and training beyond high school. However, only 35 percent of Latino adults in Arizona have any post-high-school training and a mere 9 percent of Latino adults have a bachelor's degree or higher.

Since 2006, Helios has invested more than $155 million in educated-related programs and initiatives in Arizona and Florida.

Reporter , ASU Now


ASU students spread the word about helping disaster relief

April 30, 2015

Devastation from the recent earthquake in Nepal has brought the need for more efficient global disaster relief to the forefront. But what is the best way to help?

Graphic design students in Arizona State University’s visual communication studio IV course want to spread the message: Despite what some may think, cash donations are actually best. Symbols of Relief, Dillon Johnson Download Full Image

They designed public service announcements, and four of those students were among six total student finalists from across the country in the 2015 Public Service Announcements for International Disasters (PSAid) contest. The annual competition is sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development Center for International Disaster Information (USAID CIDI), which educates the public about the best ways to help survivors of disaster events.

Those ASU students are:

• Katherine McNamara, first place, broadcast, “Donation Machine” (see video at end of story)

• Victoria Howell, third place, broadcast, “Myth vs. Fact” (see video at end of story)

• Dillon Johnson, first place, print, “Symbols of Relief”

• Stephanie McNicol, third place, print, “Make the Biggest Impact”

As is evidenced by its name, “Myth vs. Fact,” Howell wanted her video to dispel certain myths about disaster-relief donations.

“Something like a pack of water bottles that costs very little when purchased can end up costing a couple hundred dollars once it is sent, transported, received and distributed,” all activities that cost money, she said.

McNicol enjoyed participating in the competition not just for the opportunity to inform the public about disaster relief, but because “it's a great experience for [us] students … we treat this like a client project. We get to Skype with the people involved in the PSAid competition and ask questions.” 

The course is co-taught by Lisa Peña, instructor in the Design School, part of ASU’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts; John Mahon, faculty associate in the Design School; and Jarred Elrod, a graphic designer with ASU Wellness.

"My colleagues and I are extremely proud of our students," said Peña. "In the past, we have consistently won in the print and/or video categories for PSAid. However, this year, due to the recent events in Nepal, our students have gained a better understanding of how their work can affect communities near and far."

In its 10th year, PSAid has generated hundreds of broadcast and print public-service announcements about practicing “Smart Compassion” in support of international disaster relief. A core tenet of Smart Compassion is that monetary donations to relief organizations do more good for disaster survivors with greater speed and sensitivity than do unsolicited material donations.

“For the past decade, the PSAid competition has increased awareness among Americans that monetary donations to relief organizations provide the greatest help to survivors,” said Juanita M. Rilling, director of USAID CIDI. “The winners of this year’s competition have done a masterful job of illustrating that ‘Cash is Best.’”

The winning PSAs will be distributed through broadcast and cable outlets nationwide. All entries from this year and from prior years may be viewed on the PSAid competition website.

Want to know how specifically to help in Nepal? Visit the USAID CIDI website.

Emma Greguska

Reporter, ASU Now

(480) 965-9657