Hispanic College Fund

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The Hispanic College Fund is focusing on closing the educational gap in the Latino community. Their mission is to develop the next generation of Hispanic professionals. Stina Augustsson, national director of pre-college programs for the Hispanic College Fund, talks about the different opportunities for students.

Jose Cardenas: Thank you for joining us. I'm Jose Cardenas. It's a dedicated group of people who want to help develop the next generation of Hispanic professionals in the country. The Hispanic college fund focuses on closing the education gap in the community. With me to talk about the organization is Stina Augustsson, national director of the precollege programs for the Hispanic college fund. Stina welcome to "Horizonte."

Stina Augustsson: Thank you so much for having me.

Jose Cardenas: We're visiting -- you're visiting from Washington, DC.

Stina Augustsson: I am. Our Arizona director Marco Hidalgo is participating in the Hispanic leadership institute this evening.

Jose Cardenas: And that's your specific focus, Hispanic youth institute.

Stina Augustsson: Yes.

Jose Cardenas: Before we talk about that specifically, tell us about the scholarship program, which I know you've been with for what about 10 years?

Stina Augustsson: Right. The Hispanic college fund is a pipeline organization. We start working with students in high school. We help them get into college with students in college, we help them get ready for careers through some professional development. As well as supporting them with scholarships and then we work with corporations throughout the country to help place students into careers. The scholarship program, the application is actually open right now and closest on March 1st, so that application is available for students at WWW.hispanicfund.org.

Jose Cardenas: As I understand it, the focus on the youth institute, where it came into being, relatively recently --

Stina Augustsson: 2004.

Jose Cardenas: Compared to the history of the organization. Because of a particular need that you all identified.

Stina Augustsson: Yes. We had been serving students at the college level with scholarships and financial aid, and we looked back and realized we were missing a huge group of students who could make it to college but didn't believe they could, didn't have the resources or role models or they didn't think there was the role models in their community to reach a college aspiration or college education. So what we do is really put students in connection with near peer role models as well as professionals that give them a pathway to education.

Jose Cardenas: You've got eight of these programs?

Stina Augustsson: Yes.

Jose Cardenas: One here in Arizona?

Stina Augustsson: Exactly.

Jose Cardenas: Describe the program for us.

Stina Augustsson: Sure. The program kicks off with a four-day, three-night experience on a college campus here in Arizona State University. And what we do is break down the real and perceived barriers to college access. We put students through a series of workshops, first focusing on that belief part, so that students can go to college, they believe they can go to college. We introduce them to Hispanic professionals that we call Hispanic heroes, we bring in a wide variety of volunteers during the four days that we're on campus, we'll have over 150 volunteers participating. Once the students listen to motivational speakers, and then once they understand that college is a place for them, that they can go to college, there's no perceived -- there's that perceived barrier is gone. We work on the college access information, so how do you actually do this? How do you fill out a FASA, what sort of scholarships are -- .

Jose Cardenas: The financial aid application.

Stina Augustsson: Exactly. How do you fill out scholarships applications, how do you select a school that's going to be a right if it for you? So once the students go through this boot camp of four days and three nights, we do follow up with programming with them throughout the year. In Arizona, we're working really strongly with Be a Leader Foundation.

Jose Cardenas: Gary Trujillo runs that?

Stina Augustsson: Exactly.

Jose Cardenas: How do you identify the students that are going to participate in the program?

Stina Augustsson: That's a great question. We're looking for students who are traditionally under represented in college. 70% of our students in Arizona will be the first in their family to go to college, and 70% of our students last year are on free and reduced lunch. So they're both low-income students and don't necessarily have a college going legacy within their homes, who are in terms of grades, we're looking at the middle students. We're look at your B and C level student. Our belief is that a lot of your high achieving students are going to find access and information in other ways. So we're really focusing on that middle level student, students that could go to college but maybe not understand that that is a pathway for them.

Jose Cardenas: We put the website address on the screen. Can people just go there and get more information about the program?

Stina Augustsson: Absolutely. On the website you can find information about both our high school programs as well as our college programs, we have a couple of different applications that are open now. I previously spoke about the scholarship application. The application for the Arizona Hispanic youth institute is also open and available now on that website. And the deadline is April 30th. The final application I want to talk about is with our college students. So they start as near peer role models on campus with us for those four days and three nights I was talking about. And that application is also available on our website, and that deadline is March 15th.

Jose Cardenas: How do you get the word out to the high school kids that this is available? Do you work with teachers?

Stina Augustsson: M-hmm. We'll work with teachers, counselors; we work with other nonprofit organizations that are already working in the schools as I mentioned Be a Leader. So we work with other groups as well as principals, you name it, we try to seek out the students that need our support the most.

Jose Cardenas: Stina thanks for joining us on "Horizonte." Have a safe trip back to Washington.

Stina Augustsson: Thank you.

Stina Augustsson:National Director, Pre-College Programs, Hispanic College Fund;

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