August 13, 1999

The White House Convening on Hispanic Children and Youth

At the White House (August 2, 1999), First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton hosted a convening to examine the many challenges and opportunities facing Hispanic young people, particularly in the areas of early childhood development, educational attainment, and adolescence. Mrs. Clinton spotlighted the progress that has been made in these areas and took the opportunity to announce new public and private efforts, and issue a call to action to all sectors of society to meet the challenges that still remain.

Left to right: Mr Hector Cordero-Guzman, New School University, New York, N.Y.; Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (D-CA); First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton; Sarita Brown, Chair, White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans; Dr. Carlos Rodriguez, Senior Research Scientist at the American Institutes for Research and Associate Professor at American University, College of Education, Washington, D.C.

Facing the Challenges. The Hispanic population is among the fastest growing segments of American society and it is also one of the youngest, with one out of every three Hispanics 15 years old or younger. By the year 2000, the number of Hispanics aged 24 or younger is expected to reach 15 million (or 15 percent) of a total youth population of 98 million.

The Clinton Administration has worked hard to ensure that all our young people have access to the tools they need to reach their potential, and has developed and promoted programs that specifically reach out to Hispanic students. However, significant challenges still exist — too many Hispanic children are still being left behind. While progress has been made, dropout rates are too high, health insurance rates are too low, and poverty rates far exceed the national average.

Fighting for Essential Investments in Education. Responding to the findings from the President's Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans, the Administration proposed and won nearly $500 million in funding increases for programs in the Hispanic Education Agenda in the FY 1999 budget. For the second year in a row, the President has proposed increased funds (over $650 million for FY 2000) for Department of Education programs that are part of the Administration's Hispanic Education Agenda, including:

• $320 million to strengthen basic educational skills and raise academic standards;

• $35 million to train more bilingual/ESL teachers and improve instruction to help students learn English and master their basic academic subjects;

• $30 million to prepare disadvantaged youth for success in college;

• $44 million to improve education programs for migrant youth and adults;

• $190 million in new investments to help adults learn English and become literate.

Increasing Federal Efforts to Address the Needs of Hispanic Children including:

• Serving Hispanic Children and Families Better Through Head Start. Hispanic enrollment has increased by 70,000 with the program now reaching approximately 220,000 Hispanic children. Despite these increases, Hispanic children remain under-represented, comprising 23.3 percent of Head Start enrollment (excluding Puerto Rico) compared to 29.8 percent of all low income, pre-school children in the nation. The Head Start program is furthering its long-standing commitment to meeting the needs of Hispanics and other under-served populations through a variety of steps to ensure access and culturally appropriate services, including:

• increasing by 50% the number of points awarded to expansion grant applicants who emphasize outreach to under-served populations, such as seasonal farm workers, recent immigrant families and non-English speaking groups;

• boosting the number of grant application reviewers that have expertise in serving language minority children;

• working with and monitoring programs to ensure full utilization of community assessments to better target outreach, recruitment and enrollment of under-served populations; and

• providing specialized technical assistance to ten communities where changing local demographics have resulted in significant under-served populations.

Implementing the Hispanic Education Action Plan. The Department of Education is aggressively implementing the Hispanic Education Action Plan, designed to increase academic performance and participation of Hispanic students in critical programs. Specifically, the Education Department is taking a series of new steps to ensure that schools participating in Title 1--the largest K-12 education program which enrolls over 3 million Hispanic students--are held accountable for helping Hispanic students meet challenging standards in academic subjects and become proficient in English.

Building on the Progress of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans. The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic American is releasing "What Works for Latino Youth" a directory of programs throughout the country that have helped improve the lives of young Hispanics. Additionally, the White House Initiative will organize a national meeting on Latino Educational Excellence in 2000 and develop new strategies to bolster education from early childhood to graduate school.

Promoting Science and Technology Training for Hispanic Students. In order to develop a strong and diverse science and technology work-force, the Department of Energy (DOE) is forming a strategic partnership with the "Latino Science and Engineering Consortium" that will work to identify, develop, and nurture the next generation of scientists, engineers, technicians and educators in math and science by supporting monitoring programs, technical internships for community college students, research fellowships for undergraduate and graduate students and professional development opportunities in science, math and technology for K-12 teachers serving Hispanic children.

Ensuring Diversity of Americorps. Sixteen percent of all Americorps members are Hispanic. To ensure that the program continues to reflect accurately the face of America, Americorps is committing to increase its efforts to recruit Hispanic youth by featuring Latinos in ads, translating recruitment materials into Spanish, and forming partnerships with Hispanic-serving universities and organizations.

Helping to Prepare Hispanic Youth for College. The Department of Education is releasing "Como Ayudar A Su Hijo A Aprender Mate-maticas," a Spanish version of "Helping Your Child Learn Math." This tool for parents is a key part of America Counts, the Department of Education's mathematics initiative dedicated to making the improvement of student achievement in mathematics a national priority. This Spanish guide, which is available free through the Depart-ment's toll-free number, 1-800-USA-LEARN, includes sample word problems, math games, and other activities designed to help children in the elementary grades learn math, and to help Hispanic parents become actively involved in their children's learning. In addition, the Department of Education is expanding its "Think College Early" campaign to target the Hispanic community by holding a special session in 2000 to help parents and students learn about what they need to prepare for college.

Encouraging Private Sector Investment in Hispanic Children. A number of private sector organizations, including corporations, foundations, and media organizations have committed resources to addressing the needs of Hispanic children and youth.

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