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BCTC Latino Outreach selected as Bright Spot in Hispanic Education

Today, during a press conference in Washington, D.C, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics (WHIEEH) has named Bluegrass Community and Technical Colleges (BCTC) Latino Outreach and Student Services Office as one of the Bright Spots featured in the WHIEEHs first-ever Bright Spots in Hispanic Education National Online Catalog. The catalog can be accessed at www.ed.gov/HispanicInitiative.

Bright Spots are evidence-based programs, models, organizations, and initiatives that target, address, and invest in key education priorities for Hispanics and are helping close the achievement gap from cradle to career. The WHIEEH seeks to encourage collaboration by sharing data-driven approaches, promising practices, peer advice, and effective partnerships, ultimately resulting in increased support for the educational attainment of the Hispanic community.

It is an honor for our work to be selected as a Bright Spot alongside many wonderful programs throughout the United States, said Erin Howard, director of BCTC Latino Outreach. We have worked hard to make BCTC and other institutions of higher education more inclusive and supportive of Latino students over the past 10 years, and we hope the legacy of our program is to successfully graduate students who care deeply are about our community and will use their skills and leadership to make it stronger.

The BCTC Latino Outreach and Student Support Services Office was created in 2005 to meet the educational needs of Kentuckys rapidly growing Latino population. Latino Outreach directs and facilitates creative, interactive programs designed to increase student/family awareness of college opportunities, cultivate student leadership and self-awareness, and build community and peer-to-peer mentoring. Specifically, the office provides admissions, financial aid and scholarship coaching and academic advising to Latino and immigrant students in the Bluegrass Region.

Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, the Latino Outreach Office held the Latino Leadership and College Experience Camp (LLCEC), along with a night of celebration and a visit from Alejandra Ceja, the director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. Ceja spent July 30 and 31 touring the camp, visiting with campers and staff members, and listening to the stories of the participants and the successes of the program.

There has been notable progress in Hispanic educational achievement, and it is due to the efforts of these Bright Spots in Hispanic Education, programs and organizations working throughout the country to help Hispanic students reach their full potential, Alejandra Ceja, Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics said.

Currently in Kentucky, only 21 percent of Latinos ages 25-64 have an associates degree or higher. Since 2005, Latino student enrollment at BCTC has increased from 154 students (Fall 2005) to 547 students (Fall 2014), a 255% increase, and annual degrees and credentials conferred by BCTC to Latino students has increased tremendously from 24 (2005-2006) to 98 (2013-2014). BCTC is the states leading two-year institution in awarding associate degrees, diplomas, and certificates to Latino students.