Latino senators want more investment in Hispanic colleges and universities

SAN ANTONIO – In the wake of the release of 2020 census data showing that around 18.8 million Latinos are under the age of 18, two U.S. senators have decided to boost congressional attention and money for institutions Hispanic service providers, HSI.

Senses Alex Padilla, D-Calif., And Bob Menendez, DN.J., said Thursday they formed the first HSI Senate caucus to promote equity in education.

They also hope the caucus can help educate more members of Congress about universities and colleges that have been HSI certified and some have in their districts and states.

For the first time, Latinos under the age of 18 make up more than a quarter of the country’s total youth population (25.7%), according to 2020 census figures.

A university or college is considered an HSI when 25 percent of its full-time undergraduate students are Hispanic or Latino and when it meets other criteria regarding students with financial need and spending per student.

Padilla said the formation of the caucus took place after Senator Chris Coons, D-Del., Asked him if he was interested in getting involved in the historically black college and university caucus of the Senate.

“My response was that I was absolutely interested and is there also an HSI caucus and how do we make both caucuses work? Padilla said.

Padilla said it was news for him and for Coons that there was no HSI Senate caucus.

Caucuses are made up of groups of members with a common interest or purpose; some are bipartisan. Padilla and Menendez are HSI Caucus Co-Chairs.

Education, key to the growth of States

Because California’s population is roughly 40 percent Latin American, the state’s future success depends on the educational and professional success of young Latinos as well as other population groups, Padilla said.

“But California is definitely not alone in this regard,” said Padilla.

Recently released census figures showed that Latinos made up more than half of the United States’ population growth, roughly 62 million people and representing about 18% of its population.

While the overall population of young people under the age of 18 in the country has shrunk by 1.4%, Latinos in this age group have increased by 9.5%, according to an analysis of census figures carried out by the Association. National Elected Officials and Appointed Latino Education Fund.

Padilla said he sees HSI’s effort as an extension of his work since his tenure in the California state legislature. There, he passed bills improving transfer rates from community college students to four-year institutions; many community college students are Latinos.

“To support a highly educated workforce, train future leaders, and build a more inclusive democracy and economy, we need to make sure Latino students thrive,” Padilla said in a caucus press release. HSI. “No other state has more institutions serving Hispanics than California, where we know diversity is our greatest strength.”

“Behind the curve” in support of HSI

There are 569 HSIs in the country and they are all competing for a limited pool of grants that has grown slightly over the years. The funding has not kept up with the 30 new HSIs that emerge each year, said Antonio Flores, president and CEO of the San Antonio-based Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities.

The Center for American Progress reported last year that the nation spent $ 87 per Latino student enrolled in an HSI. Two-thirds of all Hispanic undergraduates were enrolled in an HSI in 2019, according to the HACU.

Flores said Latinos “are always late” in building support for HSIs.

“We’re starting to create that momentum in Congress ourselves, but we’re not where they are,” Flores said.

President Joe Biden asked Congress for half a billion dollars to fund HSI in 2022. But that’s less than $ 1 billion and more requested for 101 historically black colleges and universities, Flores said.

HBCUs do not compete for the pool of money allocated to them. They all get a share, he said.

The differences in support are due, in part, to strong advocacy from the Congressional Black Caucus and other members of Congress who have HBCUs in their districts or states and “are going to fight for them,” he said.

It is also more important to understand what IES are and what they are. HBCUs have been around longer and in the public consciousness, said Flores.

“We do not have these assets on our side and we ourselves have to increase the awareness, the understanding of the general public on the importance of HSI for the country,” he said.

Flores is concerned that as Latinos increasingly fill the ranks of the workforce, failure to invest in their education will hurt the national economy.

“As long as we don’t prepare, as best we can, the American workforce – which is mostly Hispanics in the new waves of workers – we may not be as competitive in the global economy, ”he said. is something that policy makers and lawmakers, government must understand. “

The HBCUs were created when blacks were denied entry to higher education institutions. HSI developed where Latin American populations developed. However, many were once the only institutions Latinos could attend due to racist admissions policies and other inequalities.

The House formed an HSI Caucus in 2017. Representatives Joaquín Castro, D-Texas, Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., Maria Diaz-Balart, R-Fla. and Jennifer González-Colón, delegate to the Congress of Puerto Rico, are the co-chairs.

Castro noted that the Senate formation of the HSI caucus comes after Biden’s reinstatement of the White House initiative on promoting equity, excellence and economic opportunity in education.

“There is tremendous momentum right now to invest in the success of Hispanic students,” Castro said, adding that he has worked on the issue for almost 20 years, in the Texas Legislature and Congress, where he serves. to the House Education and Labor Committee. .

The census showed that the country’s white population had declined and the country had become more multicultural over the past decade.

Padilla noted that universities and colleges designated as HSI also educate a significant number of black, Asian American and Native American students.

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